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Bemidji Fire Department to help fight fires in Oregon

Emily Ness
Updated: September 15, 2020 09:21 PM

For the first time in its history, the Bemidji Fire Department is deploying resources to a disaster in another state. This comes as wildfires rage up and down the coast of Oregon, prompting a request from officials for additional help.

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Fire Chief David Hoefer said the Bemidji Fire Department routinely helps their immediate and regional neighbors, but they look forward to the opportunity to help their national neighbors.

“We always have believed in helping others when we can in Bemidji,” Hoefer said. “We go with the philosophy of neighbors helping neighbors. We know at some point, we’re going to need some help from somebody else, so we’re always willing to do that.”

Hoefer and a crew of eight others left for Oregon on Tuesday. Their group of nine is part of a group of 29 firefighters total from Minnesota.

In addition to Bemidji, these 29 firefighters come from Brainerd, Fisher, Eden Prairie, Motley, Cross Lake, and Spring Lake Park/Blaine/Mounds View fire departments.

All together, the firefighters make up Task Force One and Task Force Two. According to Hoeffer, Bemidji and Cross Lake make up Task Force Two.

“There’s a good mix of beginners and long timers,” Hoeffer said. “We’ve got myself. I’m in my 31st year of fire service and then we’ve got some folks in their first two or three years of fire service.”

According to Hoeffer, firefighters plan to be in Oregon for about 18 days, but could stay longer if need be.

Hoefer described he and his team’s deployment as a “once in a lifetime” opportunity.

Governor Tim Walz authorized Minnesota fire departments to help out with Oregon’s fire response following a request from Oregon officials through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact or EMAC.

EMAC serves as a mutual aid agreement between all 50 states. Through the program, a state can ask for assistance and other states can volunteer to help.

Credits

Emily Ness

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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