by Terry Rogers
On January 9, Governor John Carney and the Delaware legislature recognized the Delaware Wildland Firefighters for their service. Several crews responded to wildfires in Colorado, Utah and California with many just returning from duty.
“Today, we celebrate and salute the Delaware Wildland Fire Crews for their service,” Governor Carney said. “Each year, Congress holds a fire service dinner and, at that dinner, I have been told that Delaware has the biggest presence in the fire service. I really love that I get to salute this group for their service. I had a good friend who played lacrosse with me in college who lost everything. There were so many lives lost, so much devastation. I am proud that we have men and women who are willing to sacrifice time with their own families, missing birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, to go help someone they don’t even know.”
Secretary of the Department of Agriculture Michael Scuse, the agency that oversees the Wildland crews, thanked the Governor for recognizing the work that the firefighters do. He explained that the state sent two 20-member teams to fight the wildfires.
“We receive reports during their deployment and after they return,” Secretary Scuse said. “I am pleased to report that our guys rank extremely high. They are very well-respected and I am very proud of what they have done and what they will continue to do.”
Blake Moore of Milford attended the recognition at Legislative Hall. He has been with the Delaware Wildland Crew for about a year, finishing his initial certification in March. Moore is not a member of any volunteer organizations in the area but says he relies heavily on his armed services experience to prepare for the challenges of the job. Moore served about eight days in remote and rough terrain on the Copper Mountain Fire in northern Idaho, right on the United States and Canada border. The crew actually crossed the border where they continued to engage it. The rest of his deployment was on the Cougar Fire near Hope, Idaho. This was Moore’s rookie year so these were his first two wildfires. However, he has assisted Delaware Forest Service with prescribed burns in Delaware’s natural areas.
“I have a natural call to duty and enjoy doing my part to help others when I am able,” Moore said. “When speaking to folks who served before me, I could tell this was a great opportunity to work with some great people and to do some good for society and for our natural lands. Lastly, I do whatever I can to provide for my family and this is a great way to do that while helping others.”
Moore believes that serving alongside great people who are also committed to helping others is the best part of his job. Each member of the crew brings a different background and experiences which is important in building a solid team, according to Moore.
“I really enjoy seeing people come together for a good cause and hopefully the commitment of the Delaware Wildland Firefighters inspires others to do the same,” Moore said. “While parts of the job are the most physically demanding things I have ever done, the most challenging part of serving is time away from family. My wife, Casee, and I have been married for four years and this deployment of about 19 days was the longest we have been apart since we met. She supports my desire to serve on the Wildland Fire Crew 100 percent and did an amazing job taking care of everything back home while I was gone. In any type of service such as firefighting, law enforcement, military service and others, the family serves right along with the folks doing the job. I know I couldn’t do it without them.”
Kyle Hoyd, Delaware Forest Service Assistant State Forester, said at the recognition at Legislative Hall that it is impressive that a state the size of Delaware is able to put together such an active Wildland crew.
“New York, Maryland, Pennsylvania also have crews but those states are much larger with more resources,” Hoyd said. “It shows the dedication Delaware has to helping others when they are in need. I have met so many selfless people who take time away from their own families to help others. This is a great group of men and women.”
Moore suggested that anyone interested in joining the Wildland Firefighters contact the Delaware Wildland Fire Service and see how they can help.
“There are crew members who have been doing this job for 15 years or more and the call of duty keeps bringing them back,” Moore said. “They were great mentors on my deployment and listening to them talk about past experiences on the fire line made it quite clear why they continue to serve. I’d also suggest speaking with them when looking into signing up because they will be able to give you way more experiences than I could and it will help make the decision to serve and in what capacity. This is a physically and mentally demanding job and proper preparation is paramount. The hard work is all worth it when we return home to our families knowing we were able to help do a little good in this world. I highly recommend serving with the Delaware Wildlands Fire Service. I may have only been out once so far but I am looking forward to many more opportunities to serve. There is not only a chance to help our wildlands and fellow citizens but this is also a chance to travel to some of the most remote and beautiful lands in the United States. As can be seen in California recently, wildfires can be devastating and those areas need more committed firefighters to help protect life and property in the future.”
Moore thanked the Governor and legislature for recognizing the work of the Wildland crews as well as the firefighters, law enforcement officers, first responders, past and present military members and everyone else who commits selfless service around the country. He asked that people continue showing the world that there are great people willing to sacrifice for the betterment of society.
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