How MDC provides help in fighting western fires

We hear about massive wildfires in other parts of the U.S., and sometimes they request extra aid. That extra help sometimes comes from right here in Missouri. Danny Hartwig, from the Missouri Department of Conservation, stopped by the set of Good Morning Heartland to tell us more about how they provide help in western fires. WATCH VIDEO ABOVE to learn more.

Question: What are the requirements/qualifications to do this?

Answer: Must take classroom and practical courses as well as pass the "pack test". The pack test is walking 3 miles in 45 minutes while carrying 45 pounds.

Question: How many personnel do we send to do this?

Answer: In 2013, MDC sent 50 individuals to western states including, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and northern California.

Question: Is it only MDC personnel that go out west to assist with firefighting?

Answer: No. We have an Interagency Coordination Center in Rolla that supports MDC, Iowa DNR, US Forest Service, National Park Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. We normally go out as an interagency crew which means you have some individuals from each of these agencies as well as rural fire department firefighters on the crew.

Question: What are the conditions for working/sleeping/eating?

Answer: We normally fly out and have to carry all personal needs for 2 week assignment. This includes clothes and gear. Has to be less than 65 lbs. We are issued hand tools and transportation once we arrive. Meals can be served from a catering trailer, out of "hot buckets", or you are left to eat MREâ??s.

Question: How long have you been doing this?

Answer: This will be my 14th season. I have been able to move up through the ranks and am now qualified as a Crew Boss. This means I lead a crew of 20 firefighters assisting in fire suppression and rehabilitation.

Question: How long has Missouri been sending folks out to do this?

Answer: Since the late 1970â??s. Assignments were 21 days then, but have since been shortened to 14 working days.

Question: Who pays for this?

Answer: We are reimbursed for all expenses by the US Forest Service.

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