SALT LAKE CITY – The Twin Peaks Handcrew were honored with the USDA Secretary’s Act of Valor Award and the Intermountain Regional Foresters Award today for their role in the Moose Fire Aircraft Response Group and for their willingness to risk personal injury in an attempt to perform lifesaving actions during a disaster response.
“It is an honor to see the heroic efforts of our very own recognized at the highest level,” said Jamie Barnes, Director/State Forester for the Utah Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands. “People ask me what a hero is like, and anyone can describe a hero, but in our division, a hero wears Nomex and carries a fire pack. The heroic actions on that day are truly amazing, and we are proud that you work for us.”
While assigned to the Moose Fire that started in the Salmon-Challise National Forest last July, members of Twin Peaks witnessed an aircraft mishap that resulted in the loss of life for the two pilots onboard. Members of the crew, including Supervisor August Foreman and others assigned to the fire, rushed to the site and risked injury to themselves by diving into swift water and hazardous conditions to attempt lifesaving actions.
Jesse Trembly, the Lone Peak Program Manager for the division, speaking at the awards ceremony, commented, “This was one of those incidents you can’t train for. We train for a lot of scenarios, but we just can’t train for a helicopter to go down in the way that it did. That is something that we just can’t cover. We are proud of the way Twin Peaks responded and how they thought on their feet in a very rapid fashion.”
Twin Peaks is a type 2 hand crew that is part of the Lone Peak Conservation Center and represents the state as a national resource in responding to wildfire incidents across the Great Basin Region and the United States.
The USDA Secretary’s Act of Valor Award is not often awarded and is only given out in outstanding circumstances.
The Regional Forester Award is used to enforce the strong relationship the USDA Forest Service has with the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and the state of Utah.
The crew was also honored at the end of 2022 with the Jeff Briggs All for One Award, which is handed out annually by the Division of Forestry, Fire and State Lands and is given to a group that exemplifies respect for others during difficult situations and always puts others first.