Firefighters deployed to hurricane-stricken areas

Thursday, September 15, 2005

After several flight delays, changes, cancellations and reschedulings, 20 firefighters from Barry and Lawrence counties were deployed to the Gulf Coast area on Sept. 7.

The volunteer firefighters, who were paired in two-person teams, flew from the Springfield-Branson Regional Airport to Atlanta, Ga., last Wednesday.

The firefighters began processing at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) training center on Sept. 8.

Since the initial deployment, six more teams have been dispatched from Barry and Lawrence counties.

Barry County fire depart-ments sent three volunteers from Washburn, one from Wheaton, two from Exeter and two from Aurora. Other firefighters deployed included 17 from Halltown, one from Anderson and two from Pineville.

"The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) is actively monitoring the human resources of Barry County fire, emergency medical services and law enforcement departments," said David Compton, OEM director. "We are encouraging any department who deploys personnel or equipment to notify the OEM so we may adjust the current resource availability."

Before leaving the emergency management office in Monett, each volunteer was given a packet of travel papers and identification forms.

All volunteers will receive an Avis rental vehicle when they arrive in Atlanta. A three-day hotel accommodation was also booked for each firefighter.

Volunteers will be issued a government credit card within 24 to 72 hours after they arrive in Atlanta, said Compton. The card allows each firefighter to spend $113 each day on expenses and hotel costs.

Compton also sent a convenience packet with each volunteer. The packet contains information on heat illnesses, worker criteria, safety conside-rations, hazardous materials, power line safety and luggage travel requirements.

Compton asked all volunteers to notify the OEM when they are enroute back to Missouri.

"You are all doing this country a service and representing the county well. Thank you," Compton said as the firefighters departed.

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