In this week’s special coverage of Salute to Service MTN Reporter Jack Ginsburg shows us what is like for one Incident Commander in Northwest Montana in the middle of a long fire season.
Rick Connell has been fighting fires for months on end this summer. From the July Fire that burned over 10 ,000 acres to the newly-started Gibralter Ridge fire near Eureka Connell seems to be involved everywhere across the state. Type II teams are brought into areas for close to three weeks with only a few days off before heading to a new location.
“The normal length of tour is 14 days on the fire plus whatever travel on either side so it can be 15, 16, 18 days totally and then if you go that full tour you get a minimum of two days off.”
Connell says in that time period he and his team are there to organize the responders and bring order to fighting the fire.
“You know our job is to organize the responders and do the most effective job we can with the direction we’ve been given about the fire. So, as you climb up the ladder and get to the Type II phase and incident commander level you know that’s what we do and we’re really good at is kind of bringing that order to chaos.”
Just a week after the July Fire, Connell and his team headed to Eureka with high praise and confidence from other officials around the state.
“The July Fire and that’s an extremely high fire and one of the top qualified guys in the country to put this fire out, so it’s almost a story within itself how good a team they’ve got up there.”
Connell says he enjoys his work because it is something he can do to make a difference in people lives.