Oregon firefighting training wrapped up today after an intense week of heat and advanced learning about how to handle deadly wildfires.

Approximately 400 Oregon National Guard (ORNG) Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen completed red card training, which began July 11, 2020 at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training (DPSST), and concluded today, July 17.

“This has truly been a successful partnership between the Oregon Guard, DPSST and ODF (Oregon Department of Forestry) for many years,” said Maj. Stephen Bomar, Director of Public Affairs for the Oregon Military Department.

The training at DPSST certifies “Red Card" ORNG members for the upcoming wildfire period. Since March, the Oregon National Guard has been assisting the Oregon Health Authority deliver personal protective equipment (PPE) as part of the COVID19 response, while also preparing for the upcoming fire season.

Oregon Army National Guard Aviation has also completed Bambi Bucket training in June to support potential firefighting incidents. Bambi Buckets are specialized containers suspended on a cable and carried by helicopters to distribute water for airborne firefighting operations. The Oregon National Guard has HH-60M Black Hawk helicopters and the newer F-Model CH-47 Chinook helicopters to support the Oregon Department of Forestry if needed.

Since 2015 to 2020, a total of 1,767 Oregon Guardsmen will have been trained to assist the state. Many have been activated during this time period following Governor Kate Brown’s emergency declaration orders to include the Canyon Creek Complex in the Malheur National Forest in 2015, the Chetco Bar Fire in 2017 in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness, and the Garner Complex Fire near Grants Pass in 2018.

The training provided to the members of the Oregon National Guard by DPSST is the same training required of all public and private wildland firefighters, which includes classroom, hands-on, and live-fire elements. This training is being proactively offered to have members of the Oregon National Guard ready to quickly respond in case their assistance is needed this summer by the Oregon Department of Forestry.

“This is what we do,” Bomar said. “We train to be prepared, so when we’re needed we are there.”

The ORNG has an ongoing agreement with ODF known as Operation Plan Smokey, which stipulates the specifics of how Oregon Citizen-Soldiers and Citizen-Airmen can be utilized to assist in firefighting efforts