September 17, 2021
Albany, NY

Governor Hochul Deploys New York State Firefighting Crew to Help Battle Wildland Fires in Western States

Governor Hochul Deploys New York State Firefighting Crew to Help Battle Wildland Fires in Western States

DEC Welcomes Home Crew from Greenwood Fire in Minnesota - Photos of This Crew Are Available Here

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that a crew of 20 wildland firefighters led by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is traveling to California where they will be staged before being assigned to assist firefighting efforts underway in western states for a two-week assignment.

Governor Hochul also welcomed home the crew of 20 wildland firefighters at the end of their two-week assignment fighting the Greenwood Fire in Minnesota. Earlier this month, DEC Forest Ranger Robbi Mecus returned from battling the Dixie fire in California, and in August, Forest Ranger Michael Burkholder returned from fighting the Alder Creek and Trail Creek fires in Montana. In July, Ranger Timothy Carpenter returned  home after being deployed to the Bootleg Fire in Oregon.

"Across the country, we have seen the devastation wrought by our changing climate in the form of raging wildfires, and I am proud to welcome back this expert team of DEC wildland firefighters who worked tirelessly to contain the Greenwood Fire in Minnesota," Governor Hochul said. "I'm thankful - but not surprised - that New York is home to so many dedicated individuals willing to answer the call when disaster strikes and I pray for the safe return of the crew on their way to California to protect other communities from harm."

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "No matter how dangerous the assignment, DEC's renowned wildland firefighters are always prepared to help when needed, serving both on the fire line and behind the scenes as experts in incident command. I thank them for their service, particularly during this year's busy fire season made worse by climate change."

The Greenwood Fire started on Aug. 15, and is burning in northern Minnesota between Greenwood Lake and the intersections of highways 1 and 2. To date, this fire has burned an estimated 27,000 acres and is currently about 75 percent contained. The returning crew includes DEC Forest Rangers, in addition to wildland firefighting-trained staff from DEC's divisions of Lands and Forests, Operations, and Remediation, as well as experienced firefighting volunteers from outside DEC:

  • Kevin Slade, Forest Ranger, Crew Boss, Ulster County
  • Nathan Shea, Forest Ranger, Crew Boss Trainee,  St. Lawrence County
  • Evan Donegan, Forest Ranger, Squad Boss, Warren County
  • Steve Jackson, Forest Ranger, Squad Boss, Rensselaer County
  • Gary Miller, Forest Ranger, Squad Boss, Hamilton County
  • Tyler Briggs, Firefighter, Albany County
  • James Canevari , DEC Division of Lands and Forests, St. Lawrence County
  • Josh Choquette, DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife, Delaware County
  • Larry Day, Firefighter, Steuben County
  • Shay Faulkner, DEC Division of Operations, Allegany County
  • Robert Mackenzie, DEC Division of Lands and Forests, Dutchess County
  • Lauren Martin, Firefighter, Orange County
  • Robert McPherson, Firefighter, Onondaga County
  • Kyle Olson, DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife, Tompkins County
  • Christian Peterson, Firefighter, Schoharie County
  • Travis Petit, DEC Division of Lands and Forests, Otsego County
  • Kraig Senter, Firefighter, Cayuga County
  • Cassandra Stanfield, Firefighter, Onondaga County
  • Daniel Wehn, DEC Division of Environmental Remediation, Saratoga County
  • Timothy Yeatts, DEC Division of Fish and Wildlife, Onondaga County

The latest crew of New York State firefighters headed to Moreno Valley, CA, where they will be staged prior to deployment. The crew is made up of DEC Divisions of Forest Protection, Lands and Forests, Fish and Wildlife, Operations, Materials Management, Environmental Remediation staff, and other experienced firefighting volunteers. 
All personnel and travel expenses for the New York crews are either paid directly by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to New York State based on a mutual aid agreement between states and federal land agencies.

Wildland fires in western states are not only devastating to the western U.S., they are also impacting New York's air quality. On July 20, the entire state of New York was under an Air Quality Health Advisory due to fine particulate matter caused by fires in Canada and the western U.S. Air Quality Health Advisories are issued when DEC meteorologists predict levels of pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter, are expected to exceed an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 100. Exposure to fine particulate matter can cause short-term health effects such as irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and shortness of breath. Exposure to elevated levels of fine particulate matter can also worsen medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. New York State will continue to issue advisories whenever conditions warrant to help protect public health. 

In 1979, New York sent its first firefighting crew to assist western states with large wildfires. On average, one or two crews have been sent as needed to assist with wildfires every year since. In addition to helping contain wildfires and minimize damage, these crews gain valuable experience that can be utilized fighting wildfires and managing all-risk incidents in New York.

Contact the Governor’s Press Office

Contact us by phone:

Albany: (518) 474 - 8418
New York City: (212) 681 - 4640


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