PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As wildfire season approaches, the Oregon State Fire Marshal has allocated $6 million in grants to help fire agencies hire more employees when they’ll need them most.

OSFM announced that 185 fire agencies across the state received up to $35,000 from the 2023 Wildfire Season Staffing Grant.

“The OSFM staffing grant has turned what has been a long-term vision and goal for McKenzie Fire and Rescue into a reality,” Chief Darren Bucich said in a release. “Additional staffing will help us build on our ability to provide consistent alarm response, timely auto and mutual aid response, and the ability to continue to be a part of conflagrations.”

According to officials, this is the second-consecutive year that the grant has been offered to fire agencies. After grant recipients were announced in 2022, agencies were able to add about 400 paid employees to Oregon’s roster of firefighters.

OSFM says the additional resources allowed agencies to control the size of fires, and prevent them from spreading throughout the community. The grants also gave firefighters the bandwidth to respond to other calls.

This year, OSFM says smaller agencies with an annual property tax income of less than $2 million were prioritized — although other agencies were eligible as well.

“This grant is a beacon of hope for fire districts like ours, burdened by limited funding,” Mt. Angel Fire Chief Jim Trierweiler said. “It provides a lifeline, empowering us to overcome financial constraints and a shortage of volunteers.”

Trierweiler added that the grant supports the Mt. Angel Fire District in its efforts to add skilled people to its team, and therefore fulfill the mission of protecting and serving the community.

Other grant recipients include the Astoria Fire Department, Canby Fire District and Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District. Find out about the remaining recipients here.

The OSFM staffing grant is one part of the Response Ready Oregon initiative, funded through Senate Bill 762.