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OSFM announces investment into Oregon firefighter apprenticeship program - 05/17/23

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon State Fire Marshal has announced it is investing $3 million in the Oregon State Fire Fighter Joint Apprenticeship Program over the next two years. Klamath County Fire District No. 1 and Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue will each receive $1.5 million dollars. 

The Oregon fire service has seen a decrease in the number of career and volunteer firefighters entering the field. The goals of the apprenticeship program are to create an accessible pathway into a fire career and increase diversity and inclusion, ensuring the Oregon fire service represents the communities they serve. 

The two agencies were selected to receive funding because of the increased risk of wildfire near their communities. Over the last few decades, these regions have experienced more wildfires that have increased the demand for firefighters. This investment will help to lessen that need and provide highly-trained personnel to stop fires before they have a chance to grow and impact communities.

“Apprenticeship attracts a wide range of people, bringing with them eagerness and enthusiasm, which will have a positive effect on the rest of our workforce,” Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue Chief Bob Palmer said. “Having the opportunity to sponsor a firefighter apprenticeship program is an effective strategy for helping our fire district meet the demand for skilled labor which has become a valuable and limited commodity.”

“The fire service recognizes that our greatest asset is our people, and we are committed to building, developing, and nurturing the skills of these new apprentices while unlocking their full potential and preparing them for long and healthy careers,” Klamath County Fire District No. 1 Chief Greg Davis said. “Through targeted training initiatives, mentorship programs, coaching, and career progression opportunities, we aim to create a dynamic and engaged workforce that is equipped and capable to tackle any challenge the fire service is faced with.”

This program provides 4,000 hours of training over two years. Apprentices learn the skills of basic emergency medical technician (EMT), applicable college-level math and writing coursework, and on-the-job training. During the program, apprentices also increase staffing at local fire agencies. 

The apprentice program is approved by the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) and adheres to strict guidelines for inclusion and training requirements. 

Funding for this program was made possible through Senate Bill 762, which was signed into law in 2021. This investment is part of a multi-pronged approach Oregon is taking to strategically invest in responding to and preventing wildfires. Learn more about the OSFM’s wildfire investments here.

Additional Information

Oregon State Fire Fighter Joint Apprenticeship Program 
Investments for Oregon: OSFM Grants 

OSFM announces recipients for 2023 Oregon Fire Service Capacity Grant - 05/09/23

SALEM, Ore. - To boost capacity within the Oregon fire service and better prepare communities for wildfire, the Oregon State Fire Marshal has announced the recipients of the $13.5-million Oregon Fire Service Capacity Grant. This funding is a part of the agency’s efforts to rise to the challenge wildfire poses to Oregonians.  

The goal of this grant is to provide small- to medium-sized Oregon fire agencies with resources to boost firefighting and fire prevention staffing over the next three years. These agencies protect Oregon communities and play a pivotal role in wildfire prevention and suppression. Taking a two-pronged approach, this investment will increase firefighter capacity in the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System (OFMAS). The additional prevention staff will be an added resource for communities and property owners to assess and help guide Oregonians with defensible space.

In total, 33 local fire agencies were awarded funding, adding 53 firefighters and fire prevention staff over the next three years. The OSFM was able to issue awards to agencies in 27 counties. These funds will provide benefit across the state and give the Oregon fire service added tools to serve their communities and all Oregonians.

One of the agencies receiving funding is Jefferson County Fire & EMS in Central Oregon. Chief Jeff Blake says the grant will allow the agency to fully staff a fire engine for every shift and will give them the ability to create a fire prevention program.

“This grant will allow our agency to hire a full-time, dedicated fire marshal to help keep our community safe, conduct business inspections, and develop a comprehensive fire prevention program,” Blake said. “The added capacity, especially in rural parts of Oregon, will allow for increased staffing to respond more quickly at the local, regional, and statewide levels.”

Applicants were scored through a diverse scoring committee representing all aspects of the fire service. The following principles guided award decisions:

  • Fire agencies serving areas at higher risk of wildfire
  • Communities with high social vulnerability
  • Consideration of previous grant awards
  • Statewide distribution and allocation to protect all Oregonians

This application process and other capacity-centered grants highlight the need within the Oregon fire service. The OSFM continues to develop creative and groundbreaking ways to rise to those challenges and give local fire agencies the tools they need to better serve and protect their communities.   

To see the list of recipients, visit the grants section of the OSFM’s website. To learn more about how the OSFM is helping Oregonians, visit the Success Stories – Showing our Work section on our website. 


OSFM announces wildfire grant recipients - 05/05/23

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) announced the recipients of its competitive $18-million Community Wildfire Risk Reduction (CWRR) Grant. These funds will help communities across Oregon reach their goals of improving wildfire resiliency, using local programs and solutions.

In total, 106 organizations were offered grant funding, totaling $18 million. Projects receiving funding include community-wide wildfire defensible space programs, vegetation removal around buildings, community chipping programs, community education related to wildfire preparedness, equipment for vegetation removal, and staff to support these local efforts.

“This grant will allow communities to create proactive, local solutions to lessen the impacts of wildfire,” Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said. “We know that wildfire can happen anywhere in Oregon. Investing in communities in all areas of our state will bring much-needed community risk reduction and resiliency projects and programs to life.” 

The CWRR grant is funding local governments, special districts, structural fire service agencies, and non-governmental organizations to support wildfire risk reduction projects, equipment, and staff. In total, 161 entities applied to fund 269 projects totaling a requested $44.5 million, highlighting the need for these grants to support important work in communities across Oregon. 

“We are excited that Sumpter was awarded funding through this grant,” Matt Armstrong with the City of Sumpter said. “We are a small town with limited resources; it makes it difficult to fund initiatives focused on preventing wildland fires. The funds will go a long way toward building defensible spaces. We are truly grateful and are looking forward to working with the OSFM.”

Applicants were scored through a diverse scoring committee with representatives from the OSFM, other state government agencies, non-governmental organizations, fire service agencies, special districts, and emergency management. 

Projects were prioritized on:

  • Impact in high wildfire-risk regions 
  • Communities with high social vulnerability 
  • Those in and around the built environment 
  • Providing defensible space and community resiliency 
  • Protecting people and communities 
  • Geographically diverse projects to ensure all areas of the state have the resources to improve community wildfire risk reduction and better prepare communities

For a list of recipients, click here. To learn more about how the OSFM is helping Oregonians, visit the Success Stories section on our website.

Attached Media Files: CWRR Grant recipients
Kick off Wildfire Awareness Month by creating defensible space - 05/01/23

SALEM, Ore. – During the month of May, the Oregon State Fire Marshal is asking Oregonians to take part in Wildfire Awareness Month by creating defensible space around their homes. This zone gives your home added protection against wildfire. Defensible space can prevent embers from igniting your home or prevent flames from reaching it. Another important advantage of defensible space is it creates a safe space for firefighters to work during a wildfire. 

Creating defensible space can seem like a daunting task for some homeowners, but tackling one project at a time over the course of Wildfire Awareness Month can make all the difference. Oregonians should tackle defensible space projects now before the heat of summer arrives. 

“Pick a project to complete this weekend; maybe it is making sure your gutters are clear of needles and leaves. Next weekend, limb your trees to ensure flames can’t reach the lower branches,” Oregon State Fire Marshal Mariana Ruiz-Temple said. “Simple steps over time can culminate into added protection against a wildfire.” 

Start with a plan. Walk around your home and identify areas where an ember could land and ignite. Look at the base of your home and work outward. Studies show the leading cause of home fires during a wildfire is embers igniting combustible materials, spreading fire to the house.  

Consider the following defensible space projects at your home: 

  • Space and prune trees. (see linked diagram) 
  • Remove leaves, needles, wood, bark mulch, and other debris from within 100 feet of the structure or to the property line. 
  • Keep roofs and gutters clean of leaves, needles, and other debris.  
  • Move flammable material away from the outside of your home, including mulch, flammable plants, leaves and needles, and firewood piles.  
  • Keep flammable or tall plants from growing directly under the eaves; a minimum of five feet away is recommended. 
  • Keep firewood piles and lumber at least 30 feet from any structure. 
  • Keep plants in your yard healthy and maintained. Clean out old leaves or pine needles from your plants. Prune away any dead portions.  

One home with defensible space gives added protection against wildfire for that single home. When neighbors create defensible space as a community, protection increases exponentially for everyone involved. To learn more about creating defensible space as a community, read about the Firewise USA program here 

For more information, visit the OSFM Wildfire Awareness Month page.