Rich Scalora is an Emergency Response Coordinator for the DEEP and a member of the Berlin Volunteer Fire Department. He is often involved in chemical spills and Hazmat situations in both jobs.
But his position on the wild fire crew for the DEEP may be his most dangerous.
Scalora just returned from his fourth trip to battle wild fires in the last four years. He has been to California in 2008, Canada in 2010 and Minnesota last year. For the past two weeks, Scalora and his team battled a wild fire at high altitudes but are now home safely.
"This one was probably the worst of all the fires I've been on," said Scalora, father of four children, ages 10, 12, 14 and 22. "You never really put a wild fire out. You just try to contain it so it doesn't have anything else to burn when it moves.
"On this one, we were working at altitudes from 800 to 1,100 feet. When you think about that, the top of Ragged Mountain is about 450 feet. It's harder to get that breath of air at those altitudes."
Scalora and his crew used a technique called "back firing." To do this, the crew dug lines and lit them on fire so that the fire would burn up to the line but stop there and travel no further.
The born and raised Berlinite has been a firefighter since he was young.
"I'm interested in anything to do with firefighting," he said. "Five years ago I decided to try to become a member of the crew and passed my test to get in as a wild fire crew firefighter. I have worked my way up to squad boss and I'm also a chain saw operator."
While Scalora, 42, loves the work, he says it is tougher to leave home each time.
"The week before there is a lot of anticipation so that's not too bad," he said. "But when we get to Marlborough or get ready to get on that plane to go wherever we're going it really sets in. You know it's going to be at least two weeks so there is a lot of stress. For those two weeks you're not going to see your family and you may not be able to call them. In Canada there was no telephone service. It's tougher and it's getting tougher but being home now is sweet."