SALT LAKE CITY — Firefighters from several Utah agencies are leaving for Oregon, where about 500,000 people have been ordered to evacuate their homes due to devastating wildfires.
A task force of 48 firefighters from Utah is deploying to Oregon under the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which is a system of state-to-state mutual aid coordinated through state emergency management agencies.
Jesse Carpenter, task force leader for the Unified Fire Department, said Utah firefighters were notified of the need for volunteers Thursday night, and the number of volunteers willing to go to Oregon exceeded the number requested.
"I’ve been doing this for 18 years and it’s great to see we still are all coming together. There is the family mentality of, we need to help each other and help other people out and we’re just grateful that we can get so many people wanting to go and volunteer to help," Carpenter said.
The volunteers met at the Maverik Center in West Valley City before leaving for Oregon Friday morning.
While safety briefings and equipment checks are standard protocols for firefighting volunteers who are preparing to leave on deployments like these, the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted additional precautionary measures. A Utah Department of Health representative met the volunteers at the Maverik Center for a COVID-19 safety briefing and to take each volunteer's temperature before they departed.