Wildland Firefighter Week of Remembrance

by VDOF Wildfire Prevention Program Manager Fred Turck

June 30 through July 6 provides an opportunity for those who manage and battle wildland fires to remember, reflect and learn from the tragic incidents that have taken the lives of wildland firefighters. This week invites us to examine the past and lessen the likelihood that such tragedies will recur in the future. We will never have zero wildfires; however, we can strive for and have a goal of zero wildland firefighter fatalities. Any number greater than zero is unacceptable. The men and women who are on the frontlines, as well as those with responsibility for protecting our forests and wildlands as well as our homes, deserve nothing less.

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The public can also engage with the Week of Remembrance by taking actions that reduce risks to wildland firefighter. Most importantly, people can do their part and not let a wildfire start. If we can keep our firefighters at home and our equipment in the garage we reduce the chances that something disastrous will occur. Eighty-five percent of all wildland fires are human-caused and like our friend Smokey Bear has told us for 75 years now, “Only You Can Prevent Wildfires.”

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In addition to preventing the start of a wildfire, people can also mitigate the risk of fighting a wildfire near their homes or damage to the home itself by using Firewise practices. For more information on how to prevent wildfires and how to protect your home and community visit http://www.dof.virginia.gov, http://www.firewise.org and www.smokeybear.com.

The Wildland Firefighter Foundation is one of several organizations that support the Wildland Fire Family, for a very moving memorial to the fallen firefighters please visit https://wffoundation.org/the-fallen/

VDOF Employee Earns 2018 National Smokey Bear Award

The 2018 National Smokey Bear Awards were recently announced and Fred Turck (wildfire prevention program manager), along with other prevention specialists from the Mid-Atlantic Forest Fire Compact, were awarded the highest honor, the Gold Smokey. This award program is sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service, the National Association of State Foresters and the Ad Council.

Since 1957 this prestigious award program has recognized organizations and individuals for outstanding service of at least two years with significant program impact in wildfire prevention at the national level (Gold), multi-stale level (Silver) and statewide level (Bronze). These awards remind us of the hard work done to reduce the threat of unwanted human-caused wildfires.

“Our Virginia Wildfire Prevention Program has been a National Leader for most of Smokey’s 75 years, and I am truly proud to be part of this organization and the overall Smokey program,” stated Fred. “To now be part owner of a Team Gold Smokey makes me even more humble to have been recognized at the Gold level for the second time.” Fred and another VDOF employee, Ed Roger, are only two of three folks who ever received all three awards — Bronze, Silver and Gold. Now Fred is the first individual to have received two Gold Smokey Awards. The Ad Council as an agency received the Gold Award twice but Fred is the first individual to have been so recognized.