PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With 40 more seasonal firefighters than it had a year ago, the Oregon Department of Forestry said it’s confident in its staffing and preparation for the 2021 fire season.
ODF said it will have 519 seasonal firefighters hired by June 30 and more seasonal and temporary personnel will start July 1.
To compare, on June 30, 2020, ODF had 479 seasonal firefighters.
ODF starts recruiting for wildland firefighters in mid-January and continues to recruit through May or early June.
On average, these firefighters will respond to about 1,000 fires a year. ODF said the vast majority of those firefighters are started by people and it is asking the public to be extra cautious this year to help ODF with its wildfire prevention efforts.
“When things are hot and dry, fires start and spread quickly. It’s incredibly important for people to be aware of the fire danger in the places they live and visit and to avoid activities that could result in a wildfire,” Joy Krawczyck, public affairs manager for ODF, said in a statement.
She said reducing the number of fires started will reduce the strain on firefighters throughout the state.
If needed, ODF said it is able to call in additional resources from outside the state to respond to a wildfire.