Agency employees from 3 states prepare for international assignment
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is sending 10 firefighters to Canada to help fight wildfires. Together with firefighters from Wisconson and Michigan, they will be part of a three 20-member crew assisting British Columbia firefighters in the southeastern portion of their province. Ontario firefighters will fill in the crew vacancies.
The firefighters departed from the Minnesota Interagency Fire Center in Grand Rapids on Tuesday, July 25, for a briefing in Dryden, Ontario. A day later, they then flew to British Columbia and headed to their staging area in Kamloops. Firefighters commit to a 14-day assignment, though the specific fire has not been assigned at this time.
“Helping fight fires in British Columbia is a great opportunity for Minnesota wildland firefighters to learn new procedures, form new partnerships and see new country,” said Rebekah Luedtke, Minnesota Incident Command Systems coordinator. “This will benefit Minnesota by providing training and experience that can be used at home.”
Due to dry and humid conditions, numerous fires and personnel shortages, British Columbia requested assistance from their partners in the Pacific Northwest, Canadian and national interagency fire centers.
Ontario, also facing limited resources, enacted the Great Lakes Forest Fire Compact (GLFFC) to seek support from their partners in the United States. The partnership allows for cooperation and collaboration across international borders as well as learning and training experiences for staff to hone their skills and expertise. Crews work together toward a common purpose and leverage resources for maximum effectiveness.
Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, along with Ontario and Manitoba, are members of GLFFC to promote effective prevention, pre-suppression and forest fire control in the Great Lakes region of the United States and adjacent areas of Canada. The partnership allows for sharing ideas, technology, tools, personnel and resources. Most of the time equipment resources are shared. It has been several years since human resources have been shared.