Rifle firefighters on 30-day assignment | PostIndependent.com

Rifle firefighters on 30-day assignment

Amanda Holt MillerWestern Garfield County Staff

Rob Jones and Kevin Whelan left their families behind Friday for a 30-day deployment to help Hurricane Katrina victims. The two Rifle Fire Protection District firefighters will join a Federal Emergency Management Administration team in the southeast United States.FEMA put out a call to fire departments across the country, asking for two-man teams from any department willing to send a couple of guys.Jones and Whelan sent FEMA their credentials Thursday and were on a plane to Atlanta, Ga., for training Friday afternoon.”It was quick,” Jones said, “and it’s been tough. But we’ll do whatever we need to do to help down there.”Both Jones and Whelan have families they’re leaving in western Garfield County this month.”We both have wives and kids. They’re not going to have an easy month, either, worrying about us down there,” Whelan said.Both firefighters have many years of experience and special training. They did not know, before they got on the plane Friday afternoon, what they would be doing during their 30-day deployment. They had to wait until they got on the scene to find out, just like any other emergency call, Jones said.”We could be doing anything from running a rescue operation to sopping up the hospital floor,” Whelan said. “But this is a once-in-a-lifetime call, and we have to do our part. It’s an honor to go.”

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