National Park Fire Crew heads to California for the second time this year
PAGO PAGO, American Samoa — Families and friends of the fire crew from American Samoa gathered at the airport last Friday to say farewell to their loved ones. A crew of 13 firefighters departed last Friday for the second time this year to fight wildfires in California.
They will be joined by another five Samoan crew members still in Honolulu from their previous deployment. They are scheduled to return home October 9, 2017.
Once in California, the national park’s fire crew will receive their assignment and work side-by-side with fire crews from across the nation.
“This is a very unique situation since the establishment of the Fire Crew in American Samoa back in the year 2000. This is a rare opportunity that our Crew has been deployed twice this year.” said Acting Superintendent Daniel George.
“The National Park of American Samoa Fire Crew is well known throughout the United States as a dedicated, hardworking and valuable asset to the national wildland fire response team. We are very proud of this crew. These guys would go beyond their normal duties to fully complete a task assigned to them. This deployment is not only an opportunity for them to contribute to the greater good of our country; it is also valuable experience for them. Please join me in wishing them a successful deployment and in looking forward to their safe return,” Mr. George said.
In partnership with Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, the National Park of American Samoa trains staff and local villagers in the skills required to fight fires at home and within other areas of the United States.
To become wildland firefighters, this crew had to complete rigorous training and pass a demanding written and physical test.
The fire crew is made up of National Park Service employees, American Samoa Government employees, and local businesses.
Local government agencies and businesses have wholeheartedly supported this effort by allowing some of their employees to be a part of the National Park Service fire crew and to be absent for this deployment for the next month.
This year, nine major wildfires in California have destroyed hundreds of homes and burned over two-hundred thousand acres.
(Source: National Park Service of American Samoa)