Letter to the Editor

Fire chief offers thanks for deployment support

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Dear editor:

I'd like to thank a number of folks and entities that supported the Mountain Home Fire Department during the Trinity Ridge Incident.

The risk here is that I will leave someone out. For that I apologize up front and will do my best to acknowledge you separately:

* Mayor Rist, the city council and The Rural Fire Protection District for recognizing the disaster that Elmore County faced in the Pine-Featherville area. Their understanding of the county's Emergency Operations Plan and the mutual aid clauses in it facilitated the deploymient of the MHFD Task Force of two engines, one tanker and eight firefighters to the Trinity Ridge Incident for nine days.

* The Mountain Home Police Department for the police escort out of town at 0715 Thursday morning, Aug. 16 .

* Jeff Berger. Intermountain Communications, and Motorola. I asked Jeff if we could rent eight digital radios so that we would have constant communication between ourselves. He put those together with a bank of chargers in less than eight hours. He later told me that there would be no rental charge, that Motorola and Intermountain Communications were glad to help in any way possible.

* Raymond Bartausky and the Stockyard Nite Club. Raymond donated two cases of energy drinks the evening before the Task Force left town.

* The 366 Fighter Wing, Col. Short and Mountain Home Air Force Base Fire Chief Rickard. Their commitment of a structure engine and crew that was on standby 24 hours a day for a mutual aid response to Mountain Home and the rural fire district helped facilitate the task force deployment and helped assure that the MHFD's mission statement and first commitment would be fulfilled, which is the preservation of life and property within the city and district.

* Fred Meyer stores in Boise. They donated three pallets (not cases, pallets) of water and several cases of various energy bars to the MHFD. They delivered them from Boise to our station at no cost.

* Colliers International, Industrial Brokerage Services of Boise, Rick Scruton and Steve Foster. They brought at least 21 cases of water to our fire station.

* The ladies that put together the "Care Package." Unfortunately, we don't know all of your names. This package contained enough food to feed a small army -- ham, tuna fish, bread, mayonnaise, mustard, cheese, cookies, donuts, energy bars and snacks. Way too much for us to eat. We took lots of it to the staging area where many engines and crews were assembled, labeled it as a donation from the Mountain Home community and encouraged everyone to enjoy it, and they did.

* Elmore County Extrication member George Rodrigues. George delivered the care package to us.

* A resident of the Paradise area. He gave us his key to the private hot pool, which allowed the Task Force to rinse the smoke and dirt off daily. As one of our firefighters said: "It made the smoke, heat, sweat and 14-hour shifts bearable".

* Retired MHFD firefighter Russ Anderson, and MHAFB firefighter Brad Buhler, who agreed to carry pagers during our deployment, which helped facilitate the deployment and helped assure adequate coverage for the citizens of Mountain Home and the Rural Fire Protection District.

* The residents of the Pine and Featherville area. They welcomed us with open arms, offering us snacks, meals, water, love and appreciation. Always a kind word of thanks and praise for our efforts to protect their homes and structures.

* And finally, the men, woman and families of the MHFD firefighters. All 29 active members of the department committed to this deployment. Eight were chosen to go. Several others were prepared to go if the deploment lasted much longer. The others committed to staying in town, sacrificing their personal time, especially over the weekend that we were gone, assuring adequate coverage and maintaining our first priority: The protection of life and property within the city and rural district.

And lastly, the spouses, loved ones and families of the task force members. Nine days without your loved one or father was a huge personal sacrifice by them for the support and protection of the residents of the Featherville and Pine area.

Again, my personal thanks to all of you for your love, help and support of your Mountain Home Fire Department.

-- Alan Bermensolo, chief, Mountain Home Fire Department