300-plus were trained in July, and many have deployed to blazes
SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Thanks to requests by state leaders for federal funds allocated by members of Congress to provide training in advance of wildfire season, more than 300 members of the Oregon National Guard were trained in July by the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training as wildland firefighters.
This training was proactively offered by DPSST at the request of Governor Brown and the Oregon National Guard so that our State's citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen could be activated and deployed much faster should the need arise for their assistance.
The current wildfires around the state show the importance of this pro-active training, as three teams of Oregon National Guard members have been deployed to date. DPSST has provided refresher training on the use of emergency fire shelters to those being deployed.
The training offered at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem earlier this year is often known as "red card" training and consists of both classroom and hands-on sessions. The training provided is the same training required of all public and private wildland firefighters.
The Oregon National Guard has a proven track record of supporting wildfire suppression efforts, from the air and on the ground, around the state in recent years. In 2015, members of the Guard assisted with wildfire suppression efforts in John Day and Enterprise. In 2017, more than 400 citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen supported Oregon's firefighting efforts (air and ground) at High Cascades Complex (near Crater Lake), Chetco Bar, Blanket Creek, Horse Prairie, and Milli fires.
As part of the state's coordinated and comprehensive wildfire suppression efforts, the Guard has a long-standing agreement with the Oregon Department of Forestry known as Operation Plan Smokey, which stipulates the details of how Guard members will be utilized to assist in annual firefighting efforts if needed. This agreement is reviewed on an annual basis by both agencies and the Governor's Office.
DPSST is preparing to train more than 200 additional members of the Oregon National Guard later this week in case their assistance will also be needed. This training will take a week and will be held at Camp Rilea in Warrenton due to air quality conditions at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem. Due to staffing needs created by wildfires around the state, DPSST is recieving assistance from instructors from the University of Illinois Fire Service Institute and the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management.
DPSST Director Eriks Gabliks said, "DPSST is honored to help support this important mission that has a proven record of success in training over 1,000 members of the Guard for wildland firefighting duties over the past five years. We value and appreciate the partnership we enjoy with the Oregon National Guard and the deployment of three teams of citizen-soldiers and citizen-soldiers on short notice shows the importance of the federal funds made available by Congress for the training our agency was able to provide."
## Background Information on the BPSST and DPSST ##
The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST) operates the Oregon Public Safety Academy which spans more than 235 acres in Salem. The Academy is nationally recognized for its innovative training programs and active stakeholder involvement. Eriks Gabliks serves as the Director and Darren Bucich, Chief of McKenzie Fire & Rescue serves as the Chair of the Board. The department implements minimum standards established by the Board for the training and certification of more than 40,000 city, tribal, county and state law enforcement officers, corrections officers, parole and probation officers, fire service personnel, telecommunicators, emergency medical dispatchers and private security providers.
DPSST, recognized as one of North America's most innovative state public safety standards and training organizations, provides training to more than 25,000 students each year throughout Oregon and at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem, certifies qualified officers at various levels from basic through executive; certifies qualified instructors; and reviews and accredits training programs throughout the state based on standards established by the Board.