Smoke and Fire: Multiple Agencies to Conduct Live Fire Training | New

Columbia River Fire & Rescue along with several other fire departments Saturday, May 21 in northern Columbia County for a live-fire exercise.

During live-fire training, several piles of slash on property belonging to the Clatskanie Rural Fire Protection District (CRFPD) will be burned to prepare firefighters for the upcoming wildfire season.

CRFPD Training Officer Gabriel Wiggins said the exercise will focus on containment and suppression of fires in the urban wilderness interface.

“Specific tasks performed by firefighters include fire line construction, progressive pipe laying and water supply operations,” Wiggins said. “In addition to the tasks performed by firefighters, participants will gain experience working within an incident command system.”

According to Wiggins, the skills practiced during these fire training drills are real-life practices that will be used to protect the homes and property of area residents.

This vacant donated house was donated for fire training near Clatskanie in 2020.

“Multi-agency drills like this also allow staff from different agencies to work together before an emergency incident,” he said. “Participants will also have the opportunity to gain endorsements in their job workbooks, a requirement to qualify for a position.”

Even if these exercises are controlled, Wiggins recognizes that there is always a danger.

“Live-fire training contains a number of risks,” he said. “Risks are mitigated through careful planning and the use of safe work practices.”

During the live-fire exercise, Wiggins said incident commanders look at four elements.

  • What was planned
  • What really happened
  • Why did this happen
  • What can we do next time

“This is the fourth year that we have done this type of exercise and each year builds on feedback from previous years,” he said.

The May 21 exercise will be a multi-agency exercise with participants from across the region including Clatskanie, Mist-Birkenfeld Fire, Scappoose Fire, Vernonia Fire, Columbia River Fire & Rescue, Westport Fire, Sauvie Island Fire, Knappa Fire and Lewis and Clark Fire.

Wiggins said county residents should realize that even though the region had a wet spring, drought conditions still exist in Oregon.

“Please take the time to prepare your home to be safe in the event of a wildfire,” he said. “Make sure you have defensible space around your buildings and practice responsible use of fire.”

According to the National Park Service, nearly 85% of wildfires in the United States are human-caused.

Fire training will be held at 75844 Lost Creek Road, near the intersection of Lost Creek Road and Highway 30 near Clatskanie.

Traffic on Lost Creek Road will be moderately impacted during the exercise and minor impacts may occur on Highway 30. Emergency vehicles will drive and park near the roadway in this area on Lost Creek Road.

“We ask those traveling in the area to exercise caution during the training exercise,” Wiggins said. “This training is important for our firefighters to prepare for the upcoming wildfire season. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding.”

During training, area residents may notice large amounts of smoke coming from the scene.

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Richard V. Johnson