PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — With the 2023 wildfire season officially approaching, experts say Oregon needs more volunteers and full-time firefighters along with rethinking how money is spent to battle these blazes.
Experts from Oregon State University told KOIN 6 News the funds are evaporating by focusing on fire suppression. Instead, they said, focus the money on prevention.
Last week, Oregon US Sen. Ron Wyden said the forest service needs to offer competitive wages to wildland firefighters. On Monday, Idanha-Detroit Fire Chief Fred Patterson said their all-volunteer district is actively recruiting. But, he said, they will be better prepared for wildfire season thanks to a grant from the Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Office that will allow them to hire 4 full-time seasonal firefighters.
“It’s huge. This is a great opportunity for the Idanha-Detroit Fire District to know for sure that at least 4 days out of the week during fire season we will have staff on hand,” Patterson said.
Patterson has not forgotten the Labor Day Fires of September 2020 as flames swept through Santiam Canyon and closed in on Detroit, destroying 90% of structures — including the fire district’s building.
They also lost a lot of equipment and they are still in need of a new fire hose.
KOIN 6 News will continue to follow this issue.