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Last updateWed, 26 Sep 2018 12am

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    Tuesday, September 25, 2018-8:49:39P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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15 NMI firefighters to help fight California wildfires

FIFTEEN members of the CNMI Wildland Firefighting Team (Type II Handcrew) will join 29,000 firefighters from across the nation to fight the wildfires in Mendocino, California. The group left the island on Thursday.

Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services Commissioner Clyde K. Norita said the California fire “is a big one,” and covers an area of 1.5 million acres.

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The 15 members of the CNMI Wildland Firefighting Team pose with Gov. Ralph Torres, Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, fire chief Clyde Norita and Rep. Angel Demapan at the governor’s office on Wednesday.

The deployment of the CNMI team to California was made possible by the Commonwealth’s agreement with the U.S. Forest Service which has been in place since 1996, Norita said.

“And it was renewed again for five more years. Part of that agreement is that we provide type II handcrew, which consists of wildlife firefighters,” he added.

“The U.S. Forest Service shoulders all the expense of travel and lodging. In addition, [the firefighters] are also given a salary equivalent to that of U.S. Forest Service personnel.”

Norita said the program gives CNMI firefighters an opportunity to gain first-hand experience dealing with wildfires and obtain knowledge directly from the U.S. Forest Service.

The CNMI group will be deployed for 30 to 40 days.

The team, consisting of five civilian volunteers, and 10 Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services firefighters, paid a courtesy visit to the Office of the Governor on Wednesday

Gov. Ralph Torres, Lt. Gov. Victor Hocog, and Rep. Angel Demapan expressed their gratitude for the team’s courage and willingness to help fellow firefighters in California.

Father James Balajadia and Pastor Fred Fatialofa prayed for and blessed the CNMI team.