Gov. Doug Burgum has approved an Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC) request from the state of Oregon for a firefighter task force to support the response to suppressing the deadly wildfires there. An EMAC is an emergency response mechanism that allows states to send personnel, equipment and commodities to assist with response and recovery efforts in other states.
North Dakota is sending a task force comprised of 12 firefighters and one task force leader from the Williston, Grand Forks and Fargo fire departments. The team assembled today in Bismarck for coordinating instructions and to be issued additional equipment through the North Dakota Forest Service. They are convoying to Oregon with three firetrucks and two support vehicles, including a command trailer. The team is led by Jason Catrambone of the Williston Fire Department.
“North Dakota is ready to help protect those threatened by the devastating forces of the Oregon wildfires, just as others have come to our state’s assistance during past floods and other emergencies,” Burgum said. “We’re grateful that these firefighters, who safeguard our citizens with their courageous service, have volunteered to assist others in need beyond our borders. We pray for the safety of those in harm’s way and extend our deepest condolences to those who have lost loved ones to these wildfires.”
The firefighters, who are trained in urban firefighting, will be assigned to a base camp in Oregon where they will operate their equipment to protect structures from advancing wildfires. Currently, there are 38 active wildfires threatening several communities in western Oregon.
North Dakota’s volunteer task force was assembled after sourcing and coordination through the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services (DES). North Dakota has a long history of providing EMAC support to other states. Since 2005, DES staff have supported response agencies through EMAC during disaster events in six locations, including: Louisiana (2005 hurricane), Mississippi (2011 flooding), Puerto Rico (2017 hurricane), Florida (2017 hurricane), Hawaii (2018 volcano) and, most recently, in Oklahoma (2019 flooding/tornadoes).
“We extend our appreciation to the local agencies that were able to make this response possible. This volunteer effort from Grand Forks, Fargo and Williston will provide much-needed support to the wildfire response effort in Oregon,” said Cody Schulz, North Dakota Homeland Security director. “North Dakota, too, has been the recipient of EMAC support during disaster events, such as floods. We are happy to reciprocate and help our neighbors when given the opportunity.”
The team will participate in the Oregon wildfire response for two weeks and will be back in North Dakota on Oct. 1.