Newspaper Archive of
The New Era Paper
Sweet Home, Oregon
July 4, 2012     The New Era Paper
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July 4, 2012

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Page 8 Vtm ('.k'MMI IIIITV [1€ t r, - July 4, 2012 Agencies develop ties as they put on Fire School By Scott Swanson Of The New Era The annual Fire School in Sweet Home ended Friday with the custom- ary live bum exercise, this year held on Marks Ridge property managed by Cascade Timber Consultants. Co-Incident Commander Paul Hiebert of the U.S. Forest Service said the number of students this year was higher than normal, approxi- mately 210. Hiebert and others said that not only does the school attract students from around the state, it gives fire of- ficials a chance to work together and build working relationships. The students mostly came from the Willamette Valley, but some hailed from as far away as Medford, including a 10-man crew made up of military veterans who are being trained to fight fires for the Bureau of Land Management. Hiebert said that CTC's coop- eration is what makes Sweet Home's fire school stand out, because stu- dents get more hands-on experience than they do at other firefighter train- ing programs. "What CTC does for the fire school is immeasurable," Hiebert said. "The field sites are close to town. That's a big, big reason why people want to come to this fire school." Veteran instructor Tom O'Connor of the Oregon Department of Forestry station in Philomath, who said he has attended every fire school held in Sweet Home, back to when they were held at Foster School, said Friday's exercise was "perfect for these newbies." After four days of classroom instruction and field exercises, the fi- nal "incident" had to be realistic, he said. In addition to the 200-plus fire- fighters, the exercise included eight ,,[old-up water tanks and gasoline- A crew of Sweet Home Fire School powered pumps, a bulldozer, several water tankers and more. "We have to create a four-hour fire incident to deal with, where they have to dig line and get it 100 per- cent out. At 2 p.m., when they get on the buses, they need to have this done." Hiebei't said another advantage of the fire school is that fire officials from USFS, ODF, the Bureau of Land Management, CTC and Starker private forestland managers, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, all of whom were active in this year's school, can get used to working together. "That way, when fires do start and we respond, all the fire leaders here have worked many, many hours together. It makes us very efficient. We have a great group." Watching his students clear fire lines and lay hose to put wa- ter on fires set in piles of wood left after a logging operation on Marks Ridge, O'Connor said the school helps maintain the state's ability to deal with fire. "We have X amount of people retiring," he said. "This is the next generation." Sweet Home Ranger District staff members Lance Gatchell, left, and Jer- emy Marshall set up a water tank and pump during the drill. Photos by Scott Swanson students digs a firebreak as smoke rises at a logged-off Marks Ridge site used for a training exercise Friday. Skyler Bascom, center, of the Oregon Department of Forestry Sweet Home office, unrolls some hose as his crew gets ready to put water on the flames. At right is Levi Marchbanks, also of Sweet Home. m Fourth From page 1 saying we would do what we could to educate folks, knowing it's a dif- ficult problem to prevent," Martin said. The fireworks causing the big- gest problems are noisy and ille- gal, Martin said. "We just encour- age folks to be considerate and be mindful of the laws." Among reminders are the fol- lowing: • The Office of State Fire Marshall Oregon Fire Service, natural resource agencies, Oregon fireworks wholesalers, and safety experts encourage Oregonians to "Keep it legal and keep it safe" when using fireworks. • Oregon law bans posses- sion, use, or sale of fireworks that fly, explode or travel more than six feet on rthe ground or 12 inches into the air. Fireworks commonly called bottle rockets, Roman can- dles, and firecrackers are illegal in Oregon. • Under Oregon law, officials may seize illegal fireworks and fine offenders up to $500 per violation. Those who misuse fireworks or allow fireworks to cause damage are liable and may be required to pay fire suppression costs or other damage. Parents are also liable for fireworks damage caused by their children. There were 172 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon during 2011, resulting in more than $1 million in property dam- age. Over the past five years, from 2007 through 2011, there were 942 reported fireworks-related fires in Oregon, resulting in one death, 85 civilian injuries, and more than $4.6 million in property damage. • Possessing fireworks or py- rotechnic devices is prohibited on all national forest lands in Oregon. They pose a serious fire threat. The penalty for possessing fireworks (including sparklers) can be as high as $5,000, or imprisonment for up to 6 months, or both. • Be prepared before lighting fireworks. Keep water available by using a garden hose or bucket. • Be safe when lighting fire- works. Keep children and pets away from fireworks. • Be responsible after light- ing fireworks, never relight a dud. Wait 15 to 20 minutes then soak it in a bucket of water before dis- posal. • Be aware. Use only legal fireworks and use them only in le- gal places. Cops to be on high alert While out on a picnic, boat- ing, camping and spending time with family and friends, and, of course, safely enjoying fireworks, many Oregonians may not realize that the Fourth of July is the dead- liest holiday period of the year on Oregon roads. That's why this Fourth of July and through the following week- end, Oregon State Police troopers, county deputies and city police officers will step up enforcement efforts to stop drivers before they become involved in a traffic crash or tragic highway incident. With a main focus on impaired drivers, law enforcement officers in Or- egon and nationwide will again be part of the ongoing "Drive sober or get pulled over" enforcement crackdown to catch and arrest im- paired drivers who put themselves and others at risk. This year's official Fourth of July holiday period starts at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and concludes at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday. Here are some safety tips to remember: • Get rested before you are tested. Fatigued drivers are more frequent during holiday weekends because of increased travel and ac- tivity. Be patient and allow plenty of time to reach your destination. • Pay attention. An inattentive driver is a growing safety concern on our roads and an increasing fac- tor in traffic crashes. • Even when workers are not present, all work zone speed limits still apply and fines double. Inac- tive work zones still have equip- ment, detours, and incomplete changes in the roadway so drivers need to slow down and be alert. • Share the road. Don't tail- gate, and check your mirrors and blind spots before changing lanes • Be on the lookout for bicy- clists, pedestrians and other vul- nerable users of our roads. • Always use safety restraints and child safety seats correctly.