Not long after word spread Sunday of the horrific loss 19 wildland firefighters, another specialized team was headed to the area.
The one difference – these people didn’t bring tools or wildland suits.
They are members of the Arizona Local Assistance State Team (LAST).
When a department suffers a line-of-duty death, LAST members respond to lend support, explained NFFF Executive Director Ron Siarnicki.
The LAST teams were formed by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation so every state would have immediate assistance when a tragedy occurs. The Arizona team was in the area by 8 p.m., he said during a telephone interview Monday morning.
“They will be working with the departments to determine what resources are needed such as psychological services,” he said, adding that members are expected to attend a command briefing this morning.
In addition, John Proels, LAST team coordinator, is flying to Arizona later today.
“We’re here to help in any way we can,” Siarnicki said. “This has been such a tragic year for the fire service.”
The NFFF staff continues to man an office in an old train station in West where 10 firefighters were killed in an explosion at a fertilizer plant.
Just after the blast in April, Siarnicki promised the families of the fallen firefighters that the foundation would be around to help them as they move on without their loved ones.