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U.S. Forest Service Relies on Qwest to Support Wildfire Fighting Efforts


As firefighters hit the front lines to combat Western wildfires, Qwest provides critical communications support to the U.S. Forest Service, as well as other local and regional firefighting personnel.

In one such case, hundreds of firefighters from a variety of federal and local agencies were fighting the Salt Creek fire, which started July 19 near Nephi, Utah. The blaze burned more than 25,000 acres. Qwest provided much-needed communications infrastructure, including voice and data services used to help coordinate the firefighting effort.

“I called Qwest on Sunday morning and told them I had an emergency,” said Mike Shipley, U.S. Forest Service communications unit leader. “By that evening, I had 24 phone lines installed. Qwest reacted very quickly.” The lines are also used for critical data transmission to keep firefighters, media and the public updated on the progress of the firefights.

Also on Sunday, July 29, about 700 miles away in Rapid City, S.D., Qwest deployed a command center with 25 lines at a local high school to support the Forest Service as it led firefighting efforts in Box Elder Canyon.

“Wildfires are something we have to deal with throughout the West,” said Bob Tregemba, executive vice president of network operations for Qwest. “Qwest has extensive experience helping in the response to natural disasters and emergency situations across the country, such as fires, floods, blizzards and hurricanes. We help not only with emergencies spurred by Mother Nature, but we also have extensive services available to businesses in the event they are ever stricken with an emergency. Qwest’s Spirit of Service means we can react quickly and help customers of any kind get their communications infrastructure up and running.”

In addition to providing rapid response to support firefighters and other emergency service providers, Qwest also takes action to protect network equipment and communications services against the threat of wildfires:

* Crews remove all brush and combustible materials from around crucial outside plant equipment, central offices and other Qwest facilities.
* Back-up generators, batteries and ventilation systems are checked to verify that in the event that commercial power is lost, Qwest is prepared to switch to back-up power.
* In the event of a direct wildfire threat, Qwest builds temporary structures and uses emergency fire blankets, fiberglass wraps and fire protection foam to protect Qwest pedestals and cabinets against fire damage. Crews also secure buildings against fire, smoke and heat, all in an effort to provide uninterrupted communications services to customers.


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