This Morning: Local DNR Fire Officer travels west to help firefighters battling wildfires

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As wildfires continue to burn out west, firefighters from around the world are being called in to help battle the blaze.

Some of those firefighters are from right here in mid-Michigan.

Matt Feldpausch is a DNR Fire Officer based out of Haslett.

“The unique thing with a wildfire is I mean you’ve got hours at best,” says Feldpausch.

He’s no stranger to battling wildfires.

“We flew in with helicopters and they dropped us off on a 360 acre fire,” Feldpausch refers to a previous trip.

He’s traveled more than a dozen times to help put out flames in other states with the DNR.

“You had to cook your breakfast lunch and dinner and you’d stay in a tent every day,” says Feldpausch.

However his most recent trip was a little bit different.  

“We were actually out there, mentoring some of Washington state’s engine leads,” says Feldpausch.

He says instead of fighting flames, he was helping engine leads responsible for smaller wildfires become certified in order to battle bigger ones. 

“You’re spending 20 days 10-20 hours a day in a truck with these people,” says Feldpausch.

But on this trip, he was also able to take in some training as well.

“The investigation that we did out there, that I got to do I think was hands down probably some of the best training that I could have ever received in the short amount of time that I received out there,” says Feldpausch.

Feldpausch says he tagged along on up to 6 fires a day learning himself how to search for burn patterns and signs of fire starters.

“We laid a grid out of out of one foot squares. We’d lay on the ground and look at one foot square and just look for something,” says Feldpausch.

Valuable skills he brought back to Michigan he feels can make a difference here at home.

“I probably got more investigation in the 5 days I worked with them than I could possibly get in 2-3 years here in Michigan. So that was great, ” says Feldpausch.

Feldpausch says it makes him feel good to know he’s not only helping mentor his fellow firefighters, but he’s also getting a little help himself by learning new skills he plans to use here in Michigan.

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