Oregon firefighters prepare for wildfire season


PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Fire season is officially here.

On Friday, firefighting agencies from across western Oregon held a training session in Molalla to prepare for the coming months.

Firefighters practice wildfire training in Molalla, June 7, 2019. (KOIN) 

Nearly 100 firefighters will spend the entire day training and learning critical skills they wouldn’t necessarily learn during their typical firefighting season.

“This training is a game changer,” Lt. Damon Simmons with Portland Fire & Rescue said. “The reason is, these firefighters get used to working together in a training situation.”

Lt. Simmons said a big difference this summer is that the west side of the Cascades is expected to have an above average potential for wildfires.

“People from this side of the mountain aren’t necessarily used to that fire, so if you aren’t used to it, it adds that element of danger because they’re unfamiliar and don’t know what to do,” he said.

Crews on the west side need to hone their skills with larger tools and techniques they don’t typically use in the Portland metro area — like how to use in-depth radio communication and how to fight fire with fire.

“They get used to seeing those things in the off-season, and that makes them more effective during the fire season,” Lt. Simmons told KOIN 6 News.

Lt. Simmons added that he wants Oregonians to know they’re going to be ready when duty calls — but crews also need the public’s help.

It’s important for people to keep their gutters clean, keep their roofs clear and keep the spaces around their homes secure, so it makes firefighters’ jobs easier. By doing your part, Simmons said not only will you help keep your family safe, but you’ll also help keep the men and women fighting wildfires safe.

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