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    Idaho National Guard ready to fight fires

    Idaho National Guard prepares for fire season

    Photo By Crystal Farris | More than 60 Idaho National Guardsmen completed wildland firefighting training in...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    Idaho Army National Guard

    More than 60 Idaho National Guardsmen completed wildland firefighting training in Boise, Idaho, throughout June, bringing the number of Guardsmen available to assist the Idaho Department of Lands in the event the governor declares a state of emergency to approximately 170.

    “Part of the appeal of the National Guard is serving the state and there’s not really a better way to do it than to fight wildfires,” said Lt. Col. Anthony Vincelli, Idaho National Guard director of joint/domestic plans and training.

    The four-day certification course was offered multiple times throughout June and qualified Soldiers and Airmen to earn an Incident Qualification Card, commonly known as a Red Card certification. The Idaho National Guard began certifying citizen-Soldiers and Airmen in 2020 to be prepared in the event additional wildland firefighters were needed throughout the state.

    The training and preparation was put to good use in August 2021 when Idaho Gov. Brad Little issued an emergency declaration and authorized Idaho National Guard firefighters and helicopters to assist with wildland fires across the state. Eighteen Guardsmen volunteered to fight fire on the frontlines, in addition to UH-60 Black Hawk crews who dropped more than 200,000 gallons of water on multiple fires and nearly a dozen Guardsmen who assisted with logistical and operational support in Coeur d’Alene.

    Due to the current staffing levels for the Idaho Department of Lands and the U.S. Forest Service fire crews, Vincelli anticipates the Idaho National Guard may be called upon later this summer if the demand for wildland firefighters overwhelms state and federal resources. Idaho Guardsmen could also volunteer to serve in other states if they are not needed in Idaho.

    The Idaho National Guard created a deep pool of firefighters to ensure the Idaho National Guard is ready to respond to any calls for assistance. Soldiers and Airmen volunteer to serve on missions and often have other commitments due to the part-time nature of their service to the Guard, said Vincelli.

    The Idaho Department of Lands, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management and the Idaho National Guard developed a partnership a few years ago through a Joint Powers Agreement, which defines the process involved in interagency coordination, support, training and planning during times of emergency involving mutual aid of wildland fire relief within Idaho. The agreement was updated based on lessons learned from last year’s fire season.

    Guardsmen must complete two online introduction courses, attend a 32-hour Basic Firefighting and Wildland Fire Behavior course and complete an individual physical fitness test consisting of a three-mile ruck march carrying a 45-pound pack in less than 45 minutes to earn their Red Card.

    The courses were taught by IDL and Orchard Combat Training Center firefighters. Individuals must recertify annually to maintain their Red Card certification. Guardsmen can also be employed as firefighters in their civilian capacity with a Red Card.



    Date Taken: 06.30.2022
    Date Posted: 06.30.2022 13:13
    Story ID: 424147
    Location: BOISE, ID, US 

    Web Views: 24
    Downloads: 0