TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Florida wildland firefighters are assisting in training the Montana National Guard in basic wildland firefighting.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service made the announcement Friday.
“I am incredibly proud of Florida’s well-trained and experienced wildland firefighters,” said Fried. “Their willingness to serve and meet current demands is a testament to the Florida Forest Service’s commitment to helping fight the devastating wildfires out West.”
According to the FFS, the assignment comes as wildfire activity continues to increase in Montana and the state’s firefighting resources become depleted.
“The 2021 fire season is one of the hottest and driest seasons we’ve seen on recent record in Montana, and having personnel from the Florida Forest Service come to Montana to help us train our National Guard to be fireline ready proves wildland firefighting is just one big community,” said Sonya Germann, Montana State Forester. “We are so thankful for the assistance from our partners in Florida, and the surge capacity provided from their training will be indispensable in our efforts during the rest of the fire season.”
The training provides a working knowledge of basic wildland firefighting, safety, fire weather and fire behavior.
More than 500 members of the National Guard will complete the training before the end of this month, helping reinforce Montana’s wildfire suppression efforts.
“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to support the state of Montana and all our western counterparts throughout this fire season,” said Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with everyone working tirelessly around the clock to protect residents and their homes as well as our country’s natural resources.”
According to a press release, on July 14, the National Preparedness Level was elevated to five, indicating the highest wildfire activity level. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 25,000 wildland firefighters, support personnel and incident management teams are assigned to over 100 large wildfires that have burned more than 2.5 million acres across the West.
Since June 28, the Florida Forest Service has deployed 268 wildland firefighters and support personnel to assist with suppression efforts on wildfires in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. The FFS currently has 58 people deployed in the West and is preparing to send a 20-person initial attack hand crew to Montana and a Type 1 Incident Management Team to Washington.