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Incident response team strengthens technical capabilities in Mexico

Group photo
EMNI team members, USDA Forest Service participants along with CONOFOR and DoD Northern Command leaders after the formal ceremony to in-brief the teams. Photo courtesy of CONAFOR.

MEXICO – As part of a training exercise, technicians from USDA Forest Service joined Mexican counterparts as part of the Mexican National Incident Management Team that was activated to respond to a complex of forest fires in the Yucatan Peninsula. Extending from the end of April into the beginning of May, the exercise increased the capacity of personnel that can be called to respond to wildfires in Mexico.

After arriving in the area and participating in formal proceedings with local officials at all levels of government, the team was assigned responsibility for addressing a small complex of fires burning on the Yucatan Peninsula near the village of Nohuayum. This type of real-time exercise increases the capacity for response and technical skills of personnel that can be called at a given moment to respond to wildfires in Mexico. The U.S. technicians observed the Mexican Team at work and offered recommendations and suggestions to strengthen technical capabilities. At the conclusion of the exercise, ENMI participants share their experience and knowledge with their home state teams.

Four women in Forest Service uniform posing for photo
From left, Renee Jack, Deschutes National Forest; Marthlla Corina Perez, CONAFOR; Renee Flanagan, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache NF; and Diana Lucero Lopez Castillo, Pronatura Peninsula, Non-profit organization in Yucatan Peninsula, on the final day of the exercise. This was the first time women were integrated into Division Supervisor and Command and General Staff positions on the Mexican National Incident Management team, including Logistics Section Chief and Public Information Officer. Photo courtesy of CONAFOR.

The ENMI team from Mexico’s National Forestry Commission also conducted a community meeting in Nohuayum, representing the first time this type of community engagement strategy was implemented by the team and providing a forum for the team to interact with local residents and local officials affected by the fires. The meeting was well received by the community and by the team.

The exercise was made possible through a partnership between CONAFOR, the U.S. Department of Defense through the United States Northern Command Humanitarian Assistance Program, and the USDA Forest Service International Programs office. Funding for the exercise was provided by DoD.

The Mexican ENMI is made up of eighteen technicians from various states across Mexico who worked together with the U.S. technicians. Participants from the USDA Forest Service included Isidoro Solis, Sequoia National Forest; Sylvester Ruiz, Stanislaus National Forest; Renee Flannagan, Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest; Jorge Amaya, Santa Fe National Forest; Christian Ramirez, Payette National Forest; Ed Hiatt, Willamette National Forest; Randy Garcia, Coronado National Forest; Kerry Greene, Pacific Southwest Region Fire and Aviation; and Danny Montoya, Southwest Region.