Hoodland Fire District Chief Mic Eby wants residents to think like POST PHOTO: NEIL ZAWICKI - Hoodland Fire District Chief Mic Eby has organized a wildfire expo July 27, to help citizens to think like firefighters.

To help, he’s organized the district’s first wildland fire information and safety expo, July 27 from 9 a.m. to noon, at the district’s main station in Zigzag. Attendees will interact with district firefighters, as well as members of the Oregon Department of Forestry, Mount Hood National Forest, Clackamas County Emergency Management, American Medical Response, and the Community Emergency Reaction Team.

Eby wants to educate area residents on the realities of wildfire danger here, citing the misconception that Mount Hood is an “asbestos forest,” meaning it experiences no real wildfire danger.

“The potential is there,” Eby said. “In the past 10 years or so, it’s been more and more of a problem. But I think the perception (of the asbestos forest) comes from a season two or so years ago, when the actual fire incidents amounted to maybe two or three feet worth of fire.”

That light season is no indication, Eby said. He cites the 2011 Dollar Lake Fire and this year’s predicted dry, hot season as reason for the planned expo.

“Our next task is to better prepare the public,” he said in a memo on the event. He said fire crews have increased their training 60 percent in preparation. The expo will give citizens hands-on experience with the gear, vehicles and techniques used to fight wild fires, but also help homeowners to better understand the vulnerabilities on their properties.

“We find it’s our job to educate them in order to make their homes a little more fire proof,” he said.

One way the department attempts to accomplish this is through the use of fire triage checklists, yellow door hangers the firefighters distribute to give residents a tool to assess their homes. The checklist asks yes or no questions about driveway length, roof material, tree and brush proximity to structures, vehicles, slopes of property, deck construction and power line proximity. Believe it or not, if a homeowner answers yes to at least eight of the checklist questions, their property is considered a write-off, meaning it will not be defended by the department.

“There’s a responsibility that comes with living on the mountain,” Eby said.

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