RAY BROOK — A New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Ranger is heading to Alaska to assist in the containment of wildfires.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said the ranger will support firefighting efforts as a helicopter manager in Alaska’s Delta Area Forest for two weeks.

Today’s deployment is the initial resource mobilized for New York State, and marks the beginning of what may be an active wildfire season for the U.S. in 2019, according to a news release

"The deployment of one of DEC’s Forest Rangers to support efforts to fight wildland fires in Alaska is a perfect example of how states can work together and share resources during times of adversity," Seggos said.

"I wish our ranger a safe and successful trip north and look forward to welcoming him home with gratitude for his courageous work."

The Forest Ranger will join wildland fighters from other states and will be assigned to manage helicopter flights.

As a helicopter manager, the ranger will supervise and direct helicopter operations, including establishing a work schedule, coordinating scheduling, ensuring pilots and personnel have required protective equipment, directing personnel in conducting flight operations, leading safety sessions and critiques, and more.

In recent years, DEC has sent crews and single resources to the western and southern states, Alaska, and the Canadian provinces to help contain wildfires.

All travel and administrative costs will be paid by the U.S. Forest Service or reimbursed to the State.

New York first sent a firefighting crew to assist western states in fighting large wildfires in 1979.

On average, New York sends one or two crews to assist each year.

In addition to helping contain the western wildfires and minimize damage, these crews also gain valuable experience that can be utilized fighting wildfires in New York.