October 12, 2017 07:40
The state of California has issued a multi-state request for firefighting resources to assist with firefighting efforts throughout the northern part of California. Oregon will be answering their request by sending resources from throughout the state. Multnomah County is sending a strike team of type-one engines to assist at the North Bay Fire. The five engines for the strike team will consist of one Gresham Fire engine, one Port of Portland (Airport) Fire engine, three Portland Fire engines, and a Chief Officer. The team has assembled, collected the wildfire deployment equipment that had been stowed for the season, just days ago, and are headed south to meet up with other resources from our state.
While this request for inter-state mutual aid from California is nearly unprecedented, and comes very late in the season for Oregon firefighters, Multnomah County is fortunate to have the resources available. Just a few weeks ago many of these same engines and firefighters were still battling the Eagle Creek Fire in the historic Columbia River Gorge.
Updates and photos from the Multnomah County strike team will be provided as they become available.
For more information on statewide resources being sent please contact the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office PIO at 503-370-0033 (media pager)
UPDATE: Fire crews from Multnomah County, including Portland, Gresham, and Port of Portland Fire arrived at the North Bay fire camp late last night. They will receive assignment to a geographic division of fire operations today and will set out as a strike team to their assigned area.
When fire crews respond on mutual aid incidents that are significantly outside their standard response area there are many logistical concerns that must be considered. Crews must operate on different radio networks that allow them to communicate with agencies they would not normally have contact with. They must be issued maps of the local area and become very familiar, very quickly, with the local geography and terrain that they will be working in. They must be briefed on local street names and addressing conventions, water supply locations, and buildings and properties that are tactical priorities with historic or economic significance to the local communities. Crews must be diligent with the maintenance of their vehicle as it becomes much more than just an emergency response vehicle, but also their only source of transportation in the area, and their ride home when the time comes. Systems that run smoothly in a well designed emergency response system like that in the Portland Metropolitan area, can easily be taken for granted by responders and the public alike under normal operations. In very large-scale incidents like the catastrophic fires of Northern California, these systems must expand dramatically and adapt not only to the massive strain on the system from the fires, but also that from the influx of resources that arrive to attack those fires. Fortunately, there are excellent plans in place in each state and throughout the country, guided by the National Incident Management System, that allow all of these considerations to be addressed in a timely manner no matter the size of the incident or the hazard that it poses.
Updates on the Multnomah County strike team will be posted as they become available.