Webster Fire Department joins international coalition sending reinforcements to fight California wildfires

WEBSTER, Texas - With 18 major fires burning across California, Texas fire departments are answering the call to help. As part of the Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid System, Webster Fire Department Chief Patrick Shipp is helping organize five fire engines to be sent to California. The fire trucks come from Webster, Galveston, Porter, Baytown and Montgomery County ESD No. 1.

"If you know how to fight a wildland fire in the state of Texas, you know how to fight one in Oregon, Washington and California," Shipp said. "'If you know how to fight a house fire in this state, you can fight one in those states too."

Webster's Orlando Zepeda is one of 90 Texas firefighters heading west.

"I feel like I have a privilege to go help out the residents in California," Zepeda said. "It's not everyday you get to go to California and go and help your brothers out there. Fire is fire, and we're there to go do our job."

On the way to a conference for international fire chiefs in Dallas, Paul Baxter, the fire commissioner for New South Wales Fire and Rescue in Australia visited Chief Shipp in Webster.

Australia is deploying 140 firefighters to help in America, specifically in California.

"We've had an international arrangement in place with the United States for more than 18 years now," Baxter said. "We've deployed firefighters up here, so it's well tested and true. This is just another battle, and this is on your home soil. To be able to come and work alongside United States crews is a fantastic country-country thing to do."

The vehicles being sent from Webster will be loaded on semi-trucks, and the firefighters will fly commercially to California. In the video below, Chief Shipp explains three important things for Webster citizens to know about the mission.