RIVERTON, Utah (ABC4 News) – Utah firefighters arrived home safely after a week deployment in California battling wildfires.
Agencies like Unified, Layton Fire, Orem, and Salt Lake had firefighters head out last week to fight the Maria fire and the Easy Fire. Deployment trips help expose crews to different fire conditions and help benefit crews while battling local fires.
“Our fuel models are a little bit different fire activity when it comes to that stuff, I would say it’s a little more extreme out there,” said Bud Higgins of Layton Fire Department.
While these trips allow firefighters the chance to gain knowledge, this deployment meant much more for Unified Fire Authority Wildland Division Chief Dominic Burchett.
“It’s something I was always scared of doing after Matt died, but taking this opportunity and growing from it is really good for me. I talked to my dad today on the way home, and he said, I’m glad you went. I am glad you didn’t let it beat you down,” said Chief Dominic Burchett.
Chief Burchett is the younger brother of fallen firefighter, Battalion Chief Matthew Burchett. Matthew Burchett was killed one year ago while on assignment in California.
The decision to deploy this year didn’t come easy.
“My mom’s initial response was no way, you’re not going. I didn’t realize the impact it would have in her until I actually left,” said Dominic Burchett.
Chief Burchett explained to the media he didn’t speak before the deployment because this trip was not about him or his brother. It was a team effort and just part of his job. Burchett said he knew he had to go no matter what, and in his heart, knew he was not deploying alone.
“I don’t think there’s ever been a minute when he hasn’t been with me. But I know if he was here today, he would have been the first to tell me to get out the door and go with him,” Dominic Burchett said tearfully.
He also noted this was an important part of his healing process and knows there will be more deployments in the future. He says he will be ready with safety as the top priority while on assignment.