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Sanibel fire PIO to be deployed out west

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Sep 16, 2020

Assistant Administrator and Public Information Officer Samantha Quinn has been deployed west be a public information officer and assist as needed. PHOTO PROVIDED

news@breezenewspapers.com

The 2020 fire season out in the western United States has been one of the worst in history, thanks mostly to the dry, hot weather turning the forests into a tinder box and the blue daytime skies a bright orange.

It has gotten so bad that a member of Sanibel Fire & Rescue is going to be sent out there to provide information on the efforts out west.

Assistant Administrator and Public Information Officer Samantha Quinn has been deployed west be a public information officer and assist as needed.

The announcement was made during the district’s monthly meeting at the fire station Wednesday, and it was perhaps the most significant development brought up during the 20-minute meeting.

Quinn said this has been an especially bad year for fires out west and that her expertise could make the difference between life and death for those who live near the flames.

“We’re seeing a lot of news about evacuations and wildfires taking over there, and they really need the help,” Quinn said, who has been a public information officer for five years. “My cousin actually lost her house. I want to go out there and help provide information and potentially save lives and utilize the qualifications I have.”

Quinn didn’t know where she would be deployed at press time, but she was requested for duty in Oregon, California and Colorado. Once she gets her orders, she will hop on a plane and go for her 14-day deployment.

The 14-day deployment is standard, Quinn said. There are also 21-day and 30-day deployments, and her deployment could be longer if she approves it.

Quinn said she believes there are a number of reasons why the fires are happening, from human error to weather cycles.

“A lot of fires are caused by humans and some are based on El Nino and La Nina weather factors. It’s hotter and drier out west while there are more hurricanes. It’s the typical weather patterns we have,” Quinn said. “The west is the Green Desert.”

Quinn started with the Florida Forest Service as a mitigation specialist and then deployed with the National Park Service in the summer of 2018 (who hold her PIO credentials) before coming to Sanibel Fire and Rescue as a PIO and finance specialist in June 2019.

“I wanted to experience structured firefighters since I had experience with wildland firefighting,” Quinn said. “Public information usually has a business or journalism background, when I started with the Florida Forest Service, my degree was in business management.”