REDMOND, OR -- Nearly 60 wildland firefighters start training Monday, in preparation for the upcoming fire season. "We call it Guard School. It’s basically a week-long training to certify entry level firefighters in the basic skill sets they will need to go out and work on the fire lines," says Patrick Lair, with the U.S. Forest Service.
Lair tells KBND News, "This year we have 57 men and women. Many of them are local, but we have folks coming from different places: Forest Service, BLM, Oregon Department of Forestry. We also have Bend Fire Department, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, as well as Oregon Military Department and Oregon National Guard." They’ll spend a few days in a classroom at the Redmond Training Center, learning about things like fire behavior and radio communications. Then, "On Thursday, we’ll go out to an area just outside Sisters and do a small prescribed burn." Once they're certified, Lair says they'll return to their home agency but, they could be deployed anywhere in the state during the season. Click HERE to learn more about becoming a wildland firefighter.
This year’s class is bigger than previous years, "Central Oregon is known for having a really strong wildland fire program, a lot of activity here and a great Guard School that’s evolved over the years to become a really well-grounded experience for people who want to learn about it," says Lair. He adds, firefighters are very aware of the potential for a tough fire season, this summer, given how dry spring has been.