TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Forest Service (FFS) announced that Florida wildland firefighters are facilitating training classes for the Montana National Guard. The assignment comes as wildfire activity continues to increase in Montana and the state’s firefighting resources become depleted. The training provides a working knowledge of basic wildland firefighting, safety, fire weather and fire behavior. More than 500 members of the National Guard will complete the training before the end of this month, helping reinforce Montana’s wildfire suppression efforts.
“I am incredibly proud of Florida’s well-trained and experienced wildland firefighters,” said Commissioner Fried. “Their willingness to serve and meet current demands is a testament to the Florida Forest Service’s commitment to helping fight the devastating wildfires out West.”
“The 2021 fire season is one of the hottest and driest seasons we’ve seen on recent record in Montana, and having personnel from the Florida Forest Service come to Montana to help us train our National Guard to be fireline ready proves wildland firefighting is just one big community,” said Sonya Germann, Montana State Forester. “We are so thankful for the assistance from our partners in Florida, and the surge capacity provided from their training will be indispensable in our efforts during the rest of the fire season.”
“We’re going to continue to do everything we can to support the state of Montana and all our western counterparts throughout this fire season,” said Erin Albury, State Forester and Director of the Florida Forest Service. “Our thoughts and prayers remain with everyone working tirelessly around the clock to protect residents and their homes as well as our country’s natural resources.”
On July 14, the National Preparedness Level was elevated to five, indicating the highest wildfire activity level. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, more than 25,000 wildland firefighters, support personnel and incident management teams are assigned to over 100 large wildfires that have burned more than 2.5 million acres across the West.
Since June 28, the Florida Forest Service has deployed 268 wildland firefighters and support personnel to assist with suppression efforts on wildfires in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. The FFS currently has 58 people deployed in the West and is preparing to send a 20-person initial attack hand crew to Montana and a Type 1 Incident Management Team to Washington.
The Florida Forest Service, a division of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, manages more than 1 million acres of state forests and provides forest management assistance on more than 17 million acres of private and community forests. The Florida Forest Service is also responsible for protecting homes, forestland and natural resources from the devastating effects of wildfire on more than 26 million acres.
–Florida Forest Service