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CT firefighters head out west to tackle wildfires

MARLBOROUGH --  They geared up and headed out Friday morning in Marlborough.

A crew of 20 packed their bags to head to Colorado to spend the next 14 to 21 days helping the U.S. Forest Service fight wildfires in the western part of the United States.

They're part of a special group that matches up DEEP staff with local firefighters.

“These guys are trained. They're all trained together, but they all have different qualifications within the crew incident command system, so some of them are supervisors, some of them are the workers, the guys with the hand tools the chain saws doing the grunt work,” said Rich Schenk, a DEEP District Fire Control Officer.

They'll all be working 16-hour days fanned out in the wilderness trying to tackle fires before they get too big.

“We're getting posted for an initial attack assignment. Basically they're going to be putting us in a district and waiting for new fire starts to show up. They've had a lot of lightning strikes that have come through the area, and when a fire gets started, we're going to be one of the first resources available,” said Ben Arnold, a Crew Boss from Pomfret.

This crew will be concentrated in the Rocky Mountain area. It’s the first 20-person crew that DEEP sent this summer. It is a dangerous job, but one the Connecticut team is proud to do.

“It's emotional. We want to make sure that everyone gets home safe, but we're very proud of our firefighters and what they do,” said Helene Hochholzer, DEEP Fire Supervisor.