60 of Connecticut’s Bravest Travel the Country Fighting Wildfires
They call themselves the Connecticut Interstate Fire Crew, and these 60 men and women go where they're needed to fight wildfires across the United States.
This special battalion of Connecticut firefighters who make up the CIFC undergo an initial rigorous training regime, including classroom time, field exercises, and physical agility testing.
In 2019 alone, wildfires burned over 4.6 million acres for $1.15 billion. From an article on nbcconnecticut.com, one of those CT firefighters, Rich Schenk, tells NBC Connecticut that he can't remember how many states he's traveled to fight wildfires.
Forty-six thousand wildfires have decimated millions of acres across the country this year, and so far, the CIFC has been mobilized 58 times. Two of Connecticut's bravest explain to FOX61 what goes into fighting a wildfire.
Rich Scalora, who's been with the CIFC for over ten years, told FOX61 the unit spent weeks in Minnesota as part of the structure protection group, ensuring that the blazes don't threaten homes near the wildfire.
Scalora went on to say that the stress of being awake for 16 hours at a time while hiking up and down hills and valleys takes its toll physically and mentally. That's the reason why every year, these firefighters must pass an annual physical agility test and obtain other specialized wildfire and emergency response credentials.
CIFC firefighter Rich Schenk said, "There is something in your soul that wants to help people." Believe it or not, ten Connecticut firefighters are still in California attempting to keep the wildfires from this summer under control.