Everyone has a part to play fighting forest fires

All hands are on deck to help fight fires this summer in Oregon. That includes accountants, grant writers, IT technicians and more.

The Statesman Journal reports that about a dozen forestry employees from different departments practiced loading single engine air tankers with fire-retardant gel in early July at Salem’s McNary Field. It was part of an annual training to prepare for wildfire season.

Despite cooler temperatures at the beginning of the summer, fire officials are still anticipating a slightly above-average fire season this year, according to Ron Graham, forestry’s deputy chief of fire protection.

“The training is critical to ensure safety and efficiency,” Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) spokeswoman Bobbi Doan said in the article.

“I was sitting in my office and I got a phone call and they said they needed some help at the (plane) base, so I got to come out… and put (the training) to use,” Ryan Gordon told the Statesman Journal. Gordon sits behind a desk writing grant narratives on a usual day.

A unique attribute of ODF is that all staff can work as fire militia, and it’s actually in every job description. Everyone, regardless of position, helps fight fires. This includes either directly supporting firefighting efforts or covering workloads so other people can participate.

Watch footage of the training from the Statesman Journal: