But for four
The four, part of the
Litzenberg said the crew from
"Their job is really to be available to rescue and treat responders who are having medical emergencies or who are hurt," he said. "They don't go for operational purposes, necessarily. They go to be the rescuers of rescuers."
Litzenberg said the
With snow in the mountains of
"The entire fire business and emergency response business is really an exercise in risk management, and you try to put the right resources where they're needed the most," Litzenberg said. Certainly, if we felt like our fire risk was increasing, we would have them here."
He said his department developed the Rapid Extraction Module team last year in response to a changing environment, "the fact that we're seeing bigger, hotter fires, the seasons getting longer."
The team could spend weeks, if not months, in the Southeast. The fire department has up to 25 firefighters who are trained to be on the Rapid Extraction Module team, and
"The way deployments to large-scale incidents work, you really try not to work somebody more than 14 days," he said.
"Our equipment will stay out there and our people will rotate. Why that's really cool is because it gets all our people a fair amount of experience. Experience in different parts of the country is really, really useful in building depth in your programs and understanding fire behavior and, honestly, in the relationships. I use the example of that fire that happened in the watershed [this summer] and the number of resources we were able to get on it in a quick amount of time. It really is a testament to the relationships we've built."
Litzenberg said it's disappointing when firefighters can't spend the holidays with their family. But, he said, advances in communications may allow the crew of four to call their families Thursday or FaceTime them if they're fortunate.
"In the emergency response business, you do get used to being away from your family, and so maybe we're a little bit more hardened than others," he said. "It still doesn't take away from the emotions of it."
But Litzenberg said firefighters form a bond.
"We spend a large part of our lives together, and we really do become another family for each other," he said.
Firefighters also are known to be great cooks.
"I'm not sure what they can make out there," Litzenberg said. "But hopefully it has turkey in it."
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