Contact: Sterling Ivey
Chelsea Peyton Parker
Wildfire Prevention Coordinator
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Welcomes Home Firefighter Crews
The Department’s Florida Forest Service Firefighters Return From Western States
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Florida Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam welcomed home two Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Florida Forest Service firefighter crews that returned to the state after spending 16 days battling wildfires for agency partners in the West.
“Assisting our partners out West with wildfire suppression efforts is a priority of the Department,” said Commissioner Putnam. “While the safety of lives and structures is of the utmost importance, the knowledge and experiences our wildland firefighters bring home makes us a stronger firefighting organization.”
A total of 36 Florida Forest Service wildland firefighters from across the state were on the front lines battling blazes and assisting with structure protection for homeowners and businesses on the Halstead Fire and Mustang Complex in Idaho.
“Due to the extreme terrain, wildfires out there (Idaho) are much more intense,” said Johnny Sabo, crew boss leader from the Florida Forest Service Chipola District. “Our work was to help ensure that residents could return home safely and with limited property loss.”
The Florida Forest Service crew working the Mustang Complex saw first-hand the benefits of their hard work after a wildfire swept through the community of Spring Creek, Idaho forcing residents to evacuate. Firefighter crews stayed to defend homes and structures but were eventually forced out as the fire danger increased. However, later reports showed that no homes or structures were lost in the intense wildfire.
“All of our hard work paid off,” said Anthony Douglass, wildland firefighter from the Florida Forest Service Caloosahatchee District. “We drew on our training and experiences battling wildfires in the South to defend the area of Spring Creek until the last second and saved every home in the community.”
While away, the firefighters faced conditions very different from those in Florida. Firefighters on the Halstead Fire experienced temperatures as low as 19 degrees Fahrenheit, the coldest location in the 48 continental United States. Besides chilling temperatures, firefighters worked along steep slopes, and mountainous terrain, while living in primitive camp facilities.
“The landscape was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” said Trevor Orr, wildland firefighter with the Florida Forest Service Jacksonville District. “At base camp, we had snowcapped mountains on our right and smoke plumes from wildfires on our left.”
Since June 1, the Department’s Florida Forest Service has deployed 155 fire personnel to Virginia, Oklahoma, Montana, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada and California to aid partners in wildfire suppression efforts.
“Our office frequently receives calls and emails regarding the ‘job well done’ by our employees,” said Jim Karels, state forester for the Department’s Florida Forest Service. “I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication by all Florida Forest Service fire personnel, especially those that represent our agency out West.”
The Florida Forest Service manages over one million acres of public forest land while protecting over 26 million acres of homes, forestland, and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire.
For statewide forestry updates and wildfire information, visit www.floridaforestservice.com or follow FFS on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/FLForestService or Twitter. http://twitter.com/FLForestService For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit. www.FreshFromFlorida.com or follow Commissioner Putnam on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/adamputnam , Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/adamputnam> , or Google+ https://plus.google.com/101261818913625063772/posts .
Sent: Friday, August 31, 2012 4:09 PM Cc: Karels, Jim; Landrum, Katelyn; Sutphen, Ronda
Attached is the press release for next Tuesday on the homecoming of crews from their Western deployment. Also attached are some photos of the crews. Let me know if those meet what you had in mind or if I need to send others.
Katelyn Crow Landrum
State Communications and Public Relations
Florida Forest Service
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
(850) 922-6855 Fax
(850) 524-0865 Cell
3125 Conner Blvd, C19
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1650
Please note that Florida has a broad public records law (Chapter 119, Florida Statutes).
Most written communications to or from state employees are public records obtainable
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