Fire Team Ready to Head West
The Boone County Wildland Fire Team, a unit specializing in fighting out-of-control brush and wildfires with the Boone County Fire District, has answered many calls from out-of-state before, and is prepared to head west if they are asked.
"We've been sending firefighters out west for years, actually to Florida and other places as well," says Steve Pausel, Boone County's Fire Chief.
The all-volunteer team is made up of mainly college students, and has fought fires in Utah, Minnesota, and Nevada. Earlier this year, firefighter Jake Waller spent two weeks in Idaho working alongside other fire districts fighting fires. If called to California, his duties would be very similar.
"If we were to get dispatched to California, we would act just like a normal fire crew," Waller explains. "We would come in a dig line and do structure protection, just act like a normal wildland firefighting team."
For now, the team is on stand-by, but it is possible that Boone County could be sending engines in the near future as California fire stations begin to ask for help.
"FEMA is now contacting the interagency fire centers throughout the country that we coordinate through on a national level and asking for engines," said Pausel, "If that request is valid then we would make ourselves available to go."
Waller says he is ready and willing should the call come in.
"If we do get dispatched, I know that everyone on the team and myself included would love the opportunity to go out and give a hand," says Waller.
The team usually gets called to action by the Missouri-Iowa Coordination Center in Rolla.