|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