– Firefighters head off to help Los Alamos (Daily Times, July 16, 2011):
FARMINGTON — Despite the prospect of rough conditions, sleeping in tents and surviving on camp rations, a crew of unfazed Farmington firefighters left for Los Alamos on Friday.
The federal government issued a call for help from fire departments and wild land firefighting organizations all across the nation since the Las Conchas fire started last month.
“We were getting resource requests daily during the Fourth of July,” said Farmington Fire Department Battalion Chief Nick Mrzlak. “They were in a real bind looking for manpower.”
This is Farmington’s second deployment. Each time, all the city could afford to send was a single engine crew.
“The city’s needs come first,” Mrzlak said. “July 4 is one of our busiest times of the year. It’s all about what the city can spare.”
An engine crew consists of a “Brush Engine,” which is a four-wheel drive super-duty Ford 550 with a pump and 300-gallon tank, three men and a whole heap of hoses and gear.
What an onlooker doesn’t see is the level of training that is riding alongside.
“We all have our wild land certification,” said team leader Duane Bair. “That’s the main reason they’re calling us.”
That and the fact that Bair, Robert Sterrett and Zac Brock are not only certified in fighting wild fire, they also have extensive training in hazardous material and rescue operations.
Despite the major difference between the Los Alamos fire and other wild land fires, this crew wasn’t the least bit nervous. In fact, they were excited as they loaded the truck Friday afternoon.
The difference can be summed up in a single word, “radiation,” a word that not only resonates with the recent catastrophe in Japan, it also draws up memories of some of the worst events in modern history.
“We spend all this time training so when we finally get to use it it’s a relief,” Sterrett said. “It’s definitely going to be a change of pace.”
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Tags: Environment, Firefighters, Global News, Los Alamos, Radiation, U.S., Wildfire