Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - State and federal fire officials met on Tuesday with Governor Greg Gianforte for a yearly pre-fire season briefing.

Gianforte invited several leaders in their respective fields to give him a preview of the upcoming wildfire season and how the state is preparing to respond.

Gianforte Emphasized a 'Maximum Response' to each Wildfire

Gianforte urged the officials to swiftly attack any wildfire with maximum response in order to keep fires from spreading and creating a disaster.

“An aggressive initial attack is not enough, we must pursue a policy of aggressive attack on all fires until they are extinguished, so long as firefighter safety is not at risk,” began Governor Gianforte. “Of the fires that were under state control last season, 95 percent of those fire starts were kept to 10 acres or less, and that's a direct result of the aggressive attack posture that we took with these fires. This effective response model goes a long way to protecting our firefighters and minimizing the impact of these fires. So congratulations to all the staff at DNRC for their great work there.”

Matt Hall with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation added his voice to the plan to protect lives property and natural resources during the upcoming fire season.

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The DNRC and Disaster and Emergency Services will Work Together

“Our interagency partnerships are really the reason for the wildfire response system and the success we have in that every year,” said Hall. “I know each agency represented here today is committed to working together to protect Montanans and our communities across the state. At the DNRC, firefighter and public safety is and always will be our highest priority. Our mission as an agency is to protect lives, property, and natural resources from wildfire by providing safe effective services to Montana citizens, as well as leadership coordination and resources to the state's wildfire organizations.”

Jake Ganieany, Response, Recovery Mitigation Bureau Chief for the Montana Department of Disaster and Emergency Services.

“I do want to talk about some of the work that Montana Disaster and Emergency Services has been working closely with DNRC,” said Ganieany. “The Montana National Guard on the Red Card training for our soldiers and airmen and Major General Hronek can cover that. We're in the final stages of signing the 2023 Memorandum of Agreement for support from the National Guard. We've also we've also been preparing and exercising and training to support the DNRC in case we need to bring additional resources through the Emergency Management Assistance compact. We have worked with a lot of our western states great relationships and the DNRC has been a great partner to work on that.”

The Montana National Guard has 1,500 Soldiers and Airmen Trained for Firefighting

Montana National Guard Major General John Hronek added his voice to the meeting, citing the close relationship between the National Guard and the DNRC in fighting wildfires.

“I'm really proud to say we have really 1,500 soldiers and airmen that are on call if needed,” said Major General Hronek. “What's cool about this effort we've done the last few years is Red Card training of those 1,500. We have about 300 of those who are red card trained through DNRC. So there’s a much more immediate response if called to support your efforts. And another piece of that is of those trained personnel, we have nine that are trained to be squad bosses.”

Gianforte repeated his point that ‘we can’t prevent fires from starting, but we can prepare to deal with them when they do occur.’

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