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Maryland Wildland Firefighters Honored for Exemplary Efforts in 2020

Governor Hogan Addresses DNR Crews That Battled Fires in 11 States

Photo of two firefighters against backdrop of a forest fire

Maryland’s wildland firefighter crews were deployed to Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California in October 2020. Maryland DNR photo.

Maryland’s wildland firefighters who served on interagency crews nationwide through the busy and challenging 2020 wildfire season were honored recently in a virtual recognition event. Governor Larry Hogan addressed the firefighters with a recorded greeting and Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio presented the firefighters with a departmental citation.

Last year, 65 Maryland fire crew members participated in 103 assignments, working on 28 different incidents in 11 states. The 2020 Interagency Wildfire Season began early in the year, with new protocols developed to  mobilize firefighters in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Crews also served an exceptionally long season, serving in deployments as late as November. 

“You worked long hours, spent weeks away from your loved ones, braved extremely dangerous conditions, and truly risked life and limb to save lives, homes, and precious natural resources,” Governor Hogan said. “When our fellow Americans face unthinkable natural disasters, Maryland stands ready to come to their aid … thanks to your bravery and dedication.”

Interagency Wildland Firefighters are mobilized through the state’s interagency agreement with the U.S. Forest Service, in which multiple states’ personnel and resources deploy to wildfire incidents across the country as needed. In 2020 they included the Maryland Forest Service fire management team, a mobilization/demobilization team, firefighter modules and crews, engine and dozer operators, and single resources, who are individuals with specific skills who serve in both overhead and support functions.

“It was an extraordinarily long and tough wildfire season with over 58,000 wildfire incidents across the United States, but you rose to the occasion,” said Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. “In fact many times you were deployed for so long that we had to switch out crews to give you respite. While many of us were working from the comfort of our homes, you were battling the elements to protect our nation’s natural resources.”

As the Maryland Department of Natural Resources begins preparing for the 2021 wildfire season, they are also being called upon to assist with the nation’s response to COVID and the need to expedite vaccinations. For 2021, Maryland’s interagency team has already received its first mobilization request from the U.S. Forest Service, and will send two EMT-certified individuals to Delaware to support a COVID vaccination center at Dover International Speedway

Maryland Department of Natural Resources staff comprise the majority of those deployed — in 2020 they included 30 employees from the Maryland Forest Service, 14 from the Maryland Park Service, and one staff member from Fishing and Boating Services. In addition, members of Volunteer Fire Departments, retired DNR staff members, an employee of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and others comprised the team.

During the 2020 wildfire season, Maryland interagency team members were deployed to Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming 

The Interagency Wildfire team for 2020 included the following individuals, along with their home county:

DNR-Maryland Forest Service: Justin Arseneault, Anne Arundel Chip Broadwater, Caroline Lance Carroll, Worcester Sergio Castillo, Worcester Aaron Cook, Franklin (Pa.) Dakota Durcho, Frederick Jeramie Foy, Garrett Patrick Gates, Preston (W. Va.) Jim Harris, Caroline Matthew Hurd, Wicomico Michael Johnson Jr., Somerset (Pa.) Randy Kamp, Garrett Andrew Kirk, Cecil Dan Lewis, Carroll Lucas Marcek, Wicomico Sue Mahanes, Harford Tyler McKee, Prince George’s Adam Miller, Allegany Sean Nolan, Garrett William Parler III, Garrett Chris Robertson, Dorchester Tim Ryan, Baltimore Travis Sanders, Preston (W. Va.) Collin Sapp, Calvert Chris Smith, Harford Matthew Spiroff, Baltimore Brian Stupak, Calvert Jamie Weaver, Montgomery Shannon Wolfe, St. Mary’s Dennis Yoder, Garrett

DNR-Maryland Park Service: Catherine Donley, St. Mary’s John Green, Calvert Brett Hendershot, Washington Marc Heim, Worcester Michael Hyde, Howard Andres Lombardi, Baltimore Lucas Mongrain, Garrett Tyler Morris, Anne Arundel John Ohler, Talbot Riley Schwertz, Calvert Andres Sipe, Cecil Adam Stachowiak, Garrett Kenneth Stanton, Baltimore Wayne Suydam Jr., Cecil

DNR-Fishing and Boating Services Chris Ruark, Dorchester

DNR-Retired Monte Mitchell, Caroline Kevin Moore, Washington Louise Upole, Garrett

Non-DNR Personnel Sean Connelly, Washington Jamey Coombs, St. Mary’s Elizabeth Czaplicki, Baltimore Todd Dudek, Wicomico Daniel Garnand, Washington Seth Garnand, Washington Alex Hardy (USFWS), Dorchester Nathan Hauser, Montgomery Elizabeth Houser, Washington Shaun Jones, Frederick Robert Lauchner, Frederick Nathan Markline, Anne Arundel Bambi Nelms (EMT), Howard Michael Riley, Worcester Britney Tatters, Washington Albert Wagner, Wicomico

Maryland’s wildland firefighting teams are led by Maryland Forest Service State Fire Supervisor Chris Robertson and Fire Managers Randy Kamp and Chris Smith. Katie Garst is logistics coordinator, managing mobilization and demobilization out of the Madonna Fire Center in Harford County. 

During 2020, other members of the Forest Service mobilization/demobilization team were:

Andrew Amoruso, Lance Carroll, Shawn Day, George Dulina, William Parler III, Tim Ryan, Ryan Wetzel, and Gilbert Wagner.

In Maryland, the Forest Service responds to an average of 200 wildfires per year that burn about 2,200 acres. These incidents are typically larger than fires in the urban areas and often require specialized equipment and tactics to contain and control. Maryland’s busiest wildfires seasons typically occur in the spring and fall.