A Montana crew is in Nevada for the season's first out-of-state firefighting expedition
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s only Montana-based firefighting crew of military veterans held a training outside of Billings a few weeks before they set off for Nevada.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s only Montana-based firefighting crew of military veterans is in Nevada tackling a 21,000-acre fire. It’s this fire season’s first out-of-state assignment for the 20-member Billings Veterans Crew.
At a recent training in June, crew leader Jeff Lissick briefed a circle of men below a hill covered with overgrown trees — wildfire fuel he tasked the crew to thin down.
“This is really to get the guys warmed up for the season in a less stressful environment," he said. "It’s more of a training environment right now, using chainsaws, working together in group coordination."
It’s standard procedure for agencies to step in where needed to fill in resource gaps.
In between felling trees, seasonal firefighter and former marine Keith Williams said he’s raring to go.
“You’re usually sitting around in the winter if you’re not working, just kinda working out, bumming around,” Williams said. “And then, once the season starts, you’re just excited, you’re pumped, you’re ready for it.”
A spokesperson with the Bureau of Land Management says the team is set to return to Montana in early August.