National Guard Trains To Fight Wildfires

More than 130 members of the Oregon National Guard spent the weekend doing wildland firefighter refresher training at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem.

They received firefighting personal protective equipment, wildfire safety considerations classes, and training on the deployment of wildfire shelters which included hands-on sessions.

The citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen from armories and air bases around the state completed their training which included hands-on live-fire scenarios to enable these previously trained men and women to refresh their skills.

This was the first training session that the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training offered this week. This first class is a refresher for those Guard members who were previously trained and certified as "red card" wildland firefighters.

On Monday a second group of more than 350 members from both Army and Air components of the Oregon National Guard will arrive for a week of training to prepare them to assist on the firelines this summer in case their assistance is needed. The training this group will receive is the same wildland firefighter "red card" training class all public and private organizations complete.

This training is being proactively offered to have more than 500 members of the Oregon National Guard ready to quickly respond in case their assistance is needed this summer by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

State leaders requested funds through the Department of the Defense which was approved to cover the costs for the training and equipment. The funds were allocated by Congress to have members of the Guard trained ahead of wildfire season which will speed-up the deployment process in case their assistance is needed.

DPSST's Director Eriks Gabliks said "the partnership with the Oregon National Guard, Oregon Department of Forestry, and DPSST is very strong which enables the training to be offered as we begin fire season in Oregon. Previous years have shown the value of this partnership as members of the Guard have been deployed to support wildfire suppression efforts around Oregon when all public and private resources were depleted."

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