sp; July 9, 2003 — This weekend, Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 will host the sixth installment of the Central Oregon Wildfire School, a program known as COWS, to provide training to firefighters statewide on protecting structures from wildfires.
Life fire training will be conducted on Friday and Saturday. Approximately 140 firefighters and 37 engines are enrolled to participate in the two-day school, which includes intensive hands-on training at a location in the Crooked River National Grassland 10 miles southeast of Madras.
"What makes this school successful is the interactive, hands-on outdoor classroom, where the trainees can apply the lessons they've learned in a live fire situation," said Kevin Donham, an incident commander with the program.
The grassland provides firefighters with the open space and fuels necessary to conduct a safe and realistic experience working in a wildland setting.
Motorists along Highway 26 are advised there may be some smoke in the area due to the live fire training exercises. Increased traffic may be present near Ramms Road and the Rimrock Springs Wildlife Management Area.
"We take every precaution to ignite the training fires under conditions that allow for a training opportunity while maintaining a controlled fire environment," Donham said.
Many of the firefighters come from agencies on the west side of the Cascades.
After completing the training, these structural engine companies are ready to help fight wildland fires in the urban interface at their home units and when dispatched to other areas under the State's Conflagration Act. The Conflagration Act allows fire officials to request engines from fire departments around Oregon to help with fire suppression efforts when local resources have been depleted.
COWS is designed to raise the level of knowledge of wildland fire suppression and apply concepts of wildland firefighting tactics and safety during live fire and other exercises and help firefighters prepare for these types of incidents.