Connecticut firefighters travel to Montana to help battle fires

A 20-person fire crew from Connecticut is heading to Lolo National Forest in Montana to assist fighting wild fires in the western part of that state.

The crew, consisting of 14 state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) employees and six local firefighters, left this week and will be deployed in Montana for up to two weeks.

This is the second time in recent weeks a Connecticut fire crew has been sent to assist in fighting wild fires — on July 19, a fire crew was dispatched to northern Quebec for 12 days.

The Lolo National Forest is near Missoula in western Montana, and is known for having some of the best fishing in the Rocky Mountains. The topography varies from remote, high alpine lakes to whitewater streams and from heavily forested ridges to smooth rolling meadows.

Certified to fight wildfires

The DEEP maintains a roster of agency staff members and personnel from local fire departments who have been certified to fight forest or wildfires. Crew members must complete a rigorous training program and participate in an annual renewal course.

Connecticut maintains this firefighting capability to participate in a reciprocal aid program operated by the U.S. Forest Service.  Under this program, trained personnel from other parts of the nation are available to assist Connecticut in the event of a fire emergency, in return for personnel from this state being available to assist elsewhere when called upon to do so.