Sunday afternoon, more than 130 citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen from the Oregon National Guard completed their two-day wildland firefighter refresher course at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem.
The two-day session was for those who had already completed the course and were "Red Card" certified. The weekend included training on firefighter safety, fire conditions, hose lines, hand tools, deployment of fire shelters, and concluded with attendees applying all that they learned with a number of live-fire scenarios.
Funds were allocated to the Department of Defense by Congress to enable the National Guard to prepare its members ahead of wildfire season just in case their assistance may be needed. State leaders in Oregon requested the funds from this program which enabled the training to occur.
This was the first of two groups of Guard members being trained this year by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST). More than 300 members of the Guard will arrive at the Academy today, Monday, July 13, 2020, to complete the wildland firefighter training course. The group arriving Monday has never had the training. Upon completion of their week of training, this group will also meet the same training requirements of all public and private wildland firefighters and be awarded their "red cards" indicating completion of the training and certification.
The Oregon National Guard is proactively training its members just in case their assistance is needed to support wildland firefighting efforts around the state this year. The Oregon Department of Forestry can request the Governor active the Guard when public and private wildfire resources are close to being depleted. The Guard has been activated in previous years under a standing agreement between the Oregon Department of Forestry and Oregon Military Department called "Operations Plan Smokey."
The men and women re-certified this weekend, along with those that will be trained in the week ahead, will return to their local communities, careers, and families and standby until the call comes. This proactive work by the Guard will enable the deployment of trained wildland firefighters from its armories and air bases around the state to be deployed much faster if, and when, the call for assistance comes in.