British Columbia (B.C.) firefighters have been deployed to Washington and Montana to help the U.S. deal with an increase in wildfire activity.
One helicopter with logistical support a helicopter operations technician, two rapattack crews, two unit crews (from the Southeast Fire Centre and Cariboo Fire Centre) and one agency representative will be sent to Leavenworth, Washington.
In addition, 23 parattack crew members and an agency representative will be sent to Missoula, Montana.
These missions follow closely behind the most recent deployment of firefighting personnel and resources to Idaho, announced yesterday. Previous deployments this season saw B.C. firefighters head to Alberta, Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Quebec and Alaska.
The recent decrease in wildfire activity in British Columbia makes it possible to share resources with other jurisdictions. The crews deployed today will be out of province for up to 19 days, but they can be recalled at any time if B.C.'s wildfire situation changes. Sufficient personnel have been retained to manage current firefighting needs.
The request for assistance was made through the Northwest Compact, which co-ordinates the mutual sharing of firefighting resources between jurisdictions in western Canada and the northwestern United States. The parattack crews were requested through the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. Costs associated with these deployments are covered by the receiving jurisdictions.
- Unit crew: A unit crew is a sustained action crew that typically works on large fires and can be self-sufficient in the field for up to 72 hours at a time.
- Parattack crews: These firefighters parachute out of fixed-wing aircraft to access remote areas.
- Rapattack crews: These crews consist of three rapattack firefighters who use helicopters and rope rappelling techniques to access remote areas and attack fires while they are still small.
- Helicopter operations technicians: These rapattack crew supervisors are specially trained in conducting and supervising rapattack and rappel/hoist operations, and associated helicopter operations.