(SWEET HOME, Ore) — Nearly 300 wildland firefighters and instructors will convene in Sweet Home next week to take part in the annual five day Mid-Willamette Valley Interagency Wildland Fire School. Officials from the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) host this training to prepare new firefighters for the demands of firefighting in Oregon's forests and rural-urban interface areas.
“We are expecting an above average fire season in western Oregon so it’s important to get our crews trained up and ready for the challenges that lie ahead,” said Co-Incident Commander Nick White from the U.S. Forest Service. “New firefighters will be trained in both tactical skills and safety,” White said. “We are all students of fire with a focus on continual improvement. Career firefighters will refresh their skills and explore leadership opportunities.”
Trainees will spend the first part of the week in a classroom setting. Classes include basic fire behavior, weather, map and compass use, teamwork, safety, tools and hose lays, fighting fire in the rural-urban interface and fire investigation. Students will camp in tents at Sweet Home High School and eat their meals communally, giving them a taste of life in a real fire camp. The course will culminate with a live fire exercise at the end of the week. Cascade Timber Consulting, Inc., a local landowner, provides a new field site each year.
“Teamwork and safety are paramount in firefighting,” said Co-Incident Commander Craig Pettinger from Oregon Department of Forestry. “Spending the week learning together as a team, and gaining hands on experience during Friday’s live fire exercise gives the students an opportunity to practice communication, safety and teamwork in a realistic setting.”
Fire officials are urging the public to use caution as there will be increased fire traffic in the area and the potential for visible smoke on Friday, June 28.