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Hoodland Fire ups staffing for fire season posted on 08/02/2022

All Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) fire districts officially entered wildfire season on July 11. Drier, hotter conditions have set in on the Mountain and throughout the state after a cool, wet spring. The risk of human-caused and naturally occurring blazes continues to increase as grass, scrubs and other underbrush that flourished during the wet season dries and becomes an abundant fuel source waiting for a spark.

The Hoodland Fire District (HFD) received a $35,000 grant from the Office of the State Fire Marshall (OSFM) to fund additional staffing for the 2022 fire season.

“With the additional staffing we have a better chance to catch a fire while it’s small before it has a chance to escalate,” Hoodland Fire Chief Jim Price said.

The OSFM Response Ready Oregon Initiative allows districts to expand staffing capacity using their current staffing model and pay scale. The OSFM made an initial investment of $4 million to fund the 2022 Wildfire Season Staffing Grant program. The OSFM defines fire season as spanning from June 1 to Oct. 31 for the purpose of the grant. All grant funds must be utilized by Oct. 31.

Chief Price stated that HFD will utilize existing personnel to increase staffing for the months of August and September, including career staff working overtime, volunteer firefighters and with a volunteer firefighter continuing to fill a temporary role due to a vacancy in the career staff. The additional staff will generally be on from noon until 8 p.m. when higher temperatures, lower humidity and potential winds increase the likelihood of a fire.

The fire risk on the mountain was moderate at the end of July according to the ODF.

“The great thing about the high precipitation earlier in the year is it pushes fire season back. The bad thing is the fuels grow as a result,” Chief Price said.

Triple digit temperatures will continue to dry fuels throughout the region at the beginning of August.

The district continues to perform wildland fire risk assessments in Government Camp in a preventative measure. Other preparation for fire season includes making sure all equipment is serviced and ready, monitoring the severity of conditions in the region and tracking ODF guidelines regarding fire hazard.

Citizens are reminded to be aware of ODF restrictions and monitor for changing conditions.

More information about wildfire preparation and prevention is available on the HFD website at www.hoodlandfire.us.

Additional information about the Response Ready Oregon grant is available at https://www.oregon.gov/osp/programs/sfm/Pages/OSFM-Grants.aspx.

By Ben Simpson/MT





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