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Hochul deploys forest ranger crew to assist with Canadian wildfire response


Thu, Jun 8th 2023 09:25 pm

Team of 7 forest rangers heads to Quebec; ranger crew boss deployed to Nova Scotia last week

√ Says smoke from raging wildfires continues to trigger air quality health advisories

Submitted by the Office of Gov. Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a team of Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers is deploying to assist with efforts to contain wildfires raging in eastern Canada. The New York team will join firefighters from New Hampshire and Maine in Quebec. Hundreds of fires in Quebec have triggered several days of air quality health advisories across New York.

"While we continue to monitor the haze caused by smoke from Canadian wildfires, we are fortunate to have forest rangers trained and ready to take on the daunting task ahead," Hochul said. "New Yorkers are always at the ready to help those in need, and I thank our brave wildland firefighters whose efforts will be critical in containing these wildfires."

A press release stated, “New York state often deploys highly trained wildland firefighters to help battle fires as part of interstate and international firefighting compacts. Last week, a forest ranger was deployed to serve as the crew boss of an interstate Northeastern Forest Fire Protection Compact crew comprised of firefighters from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine to assist efforts in Nova Scotia.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos said, "DEC Forest Rangers are world-class wildland firefighters and bring a wealth of knowledge to assist our partners in Canada. Oftentimes, they're traveling out west where we only see the effects of the fire on TV. This time, we've been feeling the effects for days. Their work will be instrumental in helping lead the firefighting efforts, and we look forward to their safe return."

The press release stated, “These two missions are the first time New York State Forest Rangers have been deployed to Canada since wildfires in Quebec in 2005. In 1979, New York sent its first firefighting crew to assist western states with large wildfires. On average, one or two crews are sent as needed to assist with wildfires nearly every year. In addition to helping contain wildfires and minimize damage, these crews gain valuable experience that can be utilized fighting wildfires and managing all-risk incidents in New York.”

An air quality health advisory for the Long Island, New York City metro, Lower Hudson Valley, Upper Hudson Valley, Eastern Lake Ontario, Central New York and Western New York regions remains in effect through at least the end of the day.

Yesterday, Hochul announced approximately 1 million high-quality N95-style masks are available to New Yorkers to help address air quality impacts. According to recent forecasts and advisories, the air quality index is expected to be unhealthy for most of the state, outside of the North Country, through today. Hochul recommended that outdoor school activities be suspended while air quality remains a concern. The governor also encouraged New Yorkers to postpone any outdoor activities in impacted regions until conditions improve.

Exposure to current air quality conditions can pose negative health impacts, including:

√ Irritation to eyes, nose or throat

√ Coughing

√ Sneezing

√ Runny nose

√ Shortness of breath

These conditions are especially dangerous for vulnerable New Yorkers with medical conditions such as asthma and/or heart disease.

The DEC and Department of Health issue air quality health advisories when DEC meteorologists predict levels of pollution, either ozone or fine particulate matter are expected to exceed an Air Quality Index value of 100. Today's advisory is due to fine particulate matter carried by the wind from the wildfires. The AQI was created as an easy way to correlate levels of different pollutants to one scale, with a higher AQI value indicating a greater health concern.

The latest AQI forecast can be viewed here.

Tips for New Yorkers to Stay Safe

√ Limit time outdoors to reduce exposure to smoke

√ Keep windows of homes and buildings closed

√ Avoid strenuous activities – outdoor activity across all groups should be limited or minimized when possible, as those with asthma, allergies or other conditions may be affected.

√ Avoid prolonged exposure – individuals with health vulnerabilities, such as cardiovascular or lung disease, as should those who are pregnant

√ For those who must travel outdoors for significant periods, properly fitted, high-quality masks help reduce exposure.

The press release noted, “New York state is at ‘moderate’ fire risk, and the DEC fire danger map is regularly updated on the DEC website. While the statewide burn ban is no longer in effect, brush burning should only be done when absolutely necessary. Burning garbage or leaves is prohibited year-round in New York state. For more information about fire safety and prevention, go to DEC's FIREWISE New York webpage.”

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