Four Yukon firefighters have joined up with Oklahoma Task Force 1 and will spend the next week to two weeks in Houston helping with the rescue efforts following Hurricane Harvey.
Battalion Chief Brandon Anderson, Capt. Cory Provence, Cpl. Kirk Ellington and Cpl. Brent Weaver left Wednesday headed for Houston.
All four are swift-water certified rescuers.
Yukon Fire Chief Shawn Vogt said the firefighters arrived in Houston on Thursday and joined forces with Oklahoma Task Force 1. That task force is made up of firefighters from throughout the Oklahoma City metro area.
Before leaving Wednesday, Anderson said he was excited about having the opportunity to help those in need.
“I am excited. This is what we train for,” Anderson said.
Deputy Fire Chief Kyle Trumbly said the Office of Homeland Security requested Yukon’s assistance Wednesday morning.
“They had a need for additional swift-water rescuers,” Trumbly said.
Yukon has 10 firefighters who are swift-water qualified, including three who just completed their training last week.
Trumbly said none of those who trained last week are making the trip, but all of their firefighters were trained since 2015.
The first group trained in August 2015 at New Brunsfels, Texas.
The last two groups, both this year, have trained in Oklahoma City.
All were trained using funds from Homeland Security.
“I am very proud of our guys. They expressed a desire to do the training, and they do it on their own time,” he said.
The firefighters who now are in Houston will be reimbursed by Homeland Security for their work, but it does leave the department four firefighters short.
Trumbly said the department is making adjustments to schedules to make sure each shift is fully covered.
He said the department was told the four could be in the Houston area for up to two weeks.
“I hate to lose quality people for two weeks, but we have equally as qualified people here who are willing to step up,” Trumbly said. “We want to make sure the citizens are protected with the same type of people.”
Yukon’s firefighters were among eight teams that headed to Houston on Wednesday. The others were from Chickasha, Guthrie, McCurtain County, McIntosh County, Seminole, Shawnee and Tecumseh.
Meanwhile, the Mustang Fire Department sent one member of its crew to assist on Monday.
Capt. Craig Carruth traveled to Houston as part of the task force.
Carruth, who is a 19-year-veteran of the department, also is trained in swift-water rescues.
The group is expected to be in Houston at least seven days, although Mustang Fire Chief Carl Hickman said that could be extended based on need.
Hickman said the task force is conducting search and rescue missions in the Houston metropolitan area and had 33 rescues, 317 evacuations and 53 pets saved as of 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Since Harvey came on shore earlier this week, thousands of people have been forced from their home and more than 13,000 people have been rescued.