Westport firefighter deployed to help battle California wildfires
Updated 7:19 pm, Wednesday, August 5, 2015
A Westport firefighter left Tuesday for northern California to help battle the raging, out-of-control wildfires that prompted Gov. Jerry Brown to declare a state of emergency in his state.
Assistant Chief Michael Kronick is joining a 20-person fire crew from the Connecticut Interstate Fire Crew, part of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, deployed to battle the massive fires.
The 43-year-old Kronick, who has federal certification to work on a wildfire crew, will most likely be deployed until about Aug. 21, according to Assistant Chief Training Officer Robert Yost. “It’s a typical two-week deployment, with about three days of travel time on each end,” said Yost.
Kronick, with the Fire Department since 1998, learned Sunday he was in the crew being deployed and headed west with other firefighters from the Northeast, taking a chartered flight out of Manchester, N.H., said Yost.
He said the Fire Department will be getting regular updates from DEEP about Kronick. While fighting the California fire, Kronick will use vacation time from the local force and is considered an employee of the federal government, which will pay him.
Kronick was last deployed on a similar mission in 2013 to assist Canada with a stubborn fire in the province of Quebec, Yost said. He has also been deployed to western states several times before to help fight wildfires.
Yost said that besides being able to help other communities cope with emergencies, Kronick’s knowledge in disaster settings has come in handy locally, such as during Hurricane Sandy. “He brings that skill set back here,” he said.
Yost said he’s also gone through the process to become a federally certified wildland firefighter, like Kronick, and is waiting to get assigned to a crew.
The DEEP maintains a roster of staff and personnel from fire departments around the state who are certified to fight wildfires, which in turn allows Connecticut to participate in a reciprocal-aid program operated by the U.S. Forest Service.