KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Several East Tennessee first responders are helping with Hurricane Idalia relief in parts of Florida according to the Rural Metro Fire Department.

Rural Metro Fire Chief Jerry Harnish said the crew left between East Tennessee Monday night and Tuesday morning. He explained that the effort is extremely important to the firefighters because they are headed to where help is needed.

“They come into the profession with the desire to help and I can’t think of a greater need at the moment than the folks on the Gulf Coast,” said Harnish.

While on the ground in Florida, Harnish said there are several tasks that firefighters can be assigned to, either as an incident commander or as strike team or task force leaders. They may also be assigned to a rescue team as well as they are licensed paramedics and EMTS, Harnish said.

Harnish shared about his own previous experience on deployment, saying it has been a while, but deployments are hard work.

“When you’re not working, it’s akin to camping out. The conditions are a little bit Spartan, but there’s not a lot of time to worry about that because the work starts as soon as you arrive and it continues in 12-hour increments,” said Harnish.

The crews can be deployed for as long as two weeks, he said.

Harnish added that the efforts made by the firefighters in Florida echo the true nature of East Tennesseans: they are always willing to help when there is trouble.

“People in East Tennessee have always been about helping others. It seems like there’s a contingent that’s always willing to go every time there’s trouble elsewhere in the country. And this time is no different. We’re a blessed community.”