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Friday, July 12 2013

Greenfield Resident Helps Battle Quebec Blazes

Adapted from a Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) press release:

Yesterday, the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) sent 15 state and municipal wildland firefighters to Quebec, Canada, to help battle fires that have raged across more than one million acres in the province since June.

The deployment is response to a request DCR Commissioner Jack Murray received Tuesday from the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission and the Northeastern Interagency Coordination Center in Bolton Hill, Maine. On Wednesday, the firefighters traveled to Manchester Airport, where they joined up with six firefighters from Maine to make up a full 21-person specialized hand crew.

The crew flew to Quebec Thursday morning and was assigned to one of several large fires currently burning in the northern part of the province. The crew, which is also referred to as a "Type 2 initial attack hand crew", will engage in direct fire suppression, working on the fire line for about 14 days building fire breaks, securing fire perimeters, containing fires, and protecting structures.

"We are extremely proud of the DCR and municipal firefighters who have been called upon to help our friends and partners in Quebec", said Commissioner Murray. "These are extremely well-trained and dedicated firefighters whose skills are much needed, and whose help, we know, is enormously appreciated."

The Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission is a compact comprised of the six New England states, New York and four eastern Canadian provinces, including Quebec. Massachusetts is one of the original members of the compact, which was formed in 1949 to provide interstate and international wildland fire mutual aid assistance.

Partnering with the U.S. Forest Service and the Northeast Forest Fire Protection Commission, DCR's Bureau of Forest Fire Control has been sending crews since 1985 to fight fires in areas of the western and Rocky Mountain States, Alaska, Florida, Virginia, and Quebec.

All firefighters are federally certified for the work, having passed a 40-hour federal wildland firefighting class and physical fitness test. Through the mutual aid agreement of the compact, the requesting state or province pays all expenses of the out-of-state crews, including salary, transportation, lodging, and food.

The responding Massachusetts firefighters are as follows:

DCR firefighters:                                                      Municipal firefighters:

Bush, Shawn                   Oakham                                Branscombe, John       North Brookfield

Whiddon, Aaron             Plymouth                           Forgea, Bruce                Windsor

Hallinan, Jonathan       Peabody                              Grimley, Michael         Townsend

Hanecak, Jesse                Whately                              McMahon, Seth            Greenfield

Jennell, Benjamin          West Newbury                  Nolette, George IV       North Brookfield

Mayer, Brian                    Groton                                                                   

Nigro, Joshua                   Hanson                                                                 

Ring, Millard                    Rockport                                                               

Rogers, Eric                      Holyoke                                                                

Whittier, Gregory          Springfield

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The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), an agency of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, oversees 450,000 acres of parks and forests, beaches, bike trails, watersheds, dams, and parkways. Led by Commissioner John P. Murray, the agency's mission is to protect, promote, and enhance our common wealth of natural, cultural, and recreational resources. To learn more about DCR, our facilities, and our programs, please visit www.mass.gov/dcr. Contact us at mass.parks@state.ma.us.

Follow DCR on Twitter............................................... twitter.com/massDCR

View videos on You Tube.......................................... www.youtube.com/MassEEA

View downloadable photographs on Flickr                   www.flickr.com/photos/masseea/sets/

Visit the Energy Smarts blog..................................... www.mass.gov/blog/energy

Visit The Great Outdoors blog.................................... www.mass.gov/blog/environment

Visit our website........................................................ www.mass.gov/dcr

251 Causeway Street, Suite 600, Boston, MA 02114  (617) 626-1250 office / (617) 626-1351 (fax)

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