Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Fire Danger Level Jumps to Moderate Wednesday: Public Fire Restrictions will take effect

The fire danger level on Oregon Department of Forestry protected lands in Jackson and Josephine counties will increase to “moderate” (blue) on Wednesday, June 21 at 12:01 a.m. 
The Industrial Fire Precaution Level will remain at Level I (one).
These regulations affect 1.8 million acres of state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management lands protected by ODF Southwest Oregon District.

Public fire restrictions currently in effect, which will remain in effect, include:
• No debris burning, including piles and debris burned in burn barrels;
• No fireworks on forestlands;
• Exploding targets and tracer ammunition, or any bullet with a pyrotechnic charge in its base, are prohibited.

Beginning Wednesday at 12:01 a.m., the following public fire regulations will take effect:

• Smoking while traveling will only be allowed in enclosed vehicles on improved roads, in boats on the water and other specifically designated locations;

• Open fires are prohibited which includes campfires, charcoal fires, cooking fires and warming fires, except at locations deemed a designated campground. Portable cooking stoves using liquefied or bottled fuels are still allowed;

• Chain saws may not be used between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. During hours outside of this time frame, chain saws may be used but require that the operator have one shovel and one 8-oz or larger fire extinguisher at the work site. A fire watch is also required for one hour after each chainsaw use;

• Cutting, grinding and welding of metal is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. These activities will be allowed during hours outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site;

• The mowing of dead or dried grass with power-driven equipment is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. This restriction does not include mowing of green lawns, or equipment used for the commercial culture and harvest of agricultural crops;

• Motorized vehicles, including motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles, will be allowed only on improved roads free of flammable vegetation. One shovel and one gallon of water, or one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher, is required while traveling in motorized vehicles; all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles must be equipped with one 2.5 pound or larger fire extinguisher.

• Any other spark-emitting internal combustion engine use not specifically mentioned is not allowed between 1:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. during moderate fire danger. Use of any spark-emitting internal combustion engine is allowed outside of this time frame only if the work site is cleared of potentially flammable vegetation and other materials, and a water supply is at the job site;

• Any electric fence controllers must be approved by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories Inc., or be certified by the Department of Consumer and Business Services, and be installed and used in compliance with the fence controller’s instructions for fire safe operation.

For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s #FireSeasonpublic restrictions, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:

• Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
• Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152

Friday, June 16, 2017

ODF Southwest Firefighter Receives ‘2016 Seasonal Firefighter Leadership Award’

Oregon Department of Forestry firefighters routinely run into the face of danger to save others. We protect our communities from wildfire and act as stewards of the land. But, what about working with communities long after a wildfire is out?
This is exactly the outlook and actions of one of our own, Tyler Averyt.
Tyler has given selflessly in support of the agency, the Firewise program and most importantly, the community. Because of his demonstrated passion and commitment to the department, Tyler has been selected as the recipient for the “2016 Seasonal Firefighter Leadership Award” for the Oregon Department of Forestry.
“I’m so proud of the type of firefighter and person Tyler has become. Tyler is one of many high caliber people on our team serving our district and the people of Oregon,” said ODF Southwest District Forester, Dave Larson.
Tyler is a 12-year veteran of the Oregon Department of Forestry. For the past year he has been assigned to a dual role as a Wildland Firefighter and Firewise Coordinator for Josephine County. In this role, Tyler is called upon constantly to do homeowner inspections in order to gain community involvement and interest in becoming a Firewise Community. While informing and assisting residents about reducing the risk of wildland fires on their properties, Tyler is also a fulltime firefighter for the district. He juggles fire calls and Firewise project implementation and planning, year-round.
“He is an employee who is highly motivated, sets goals and seeks out opportunities to accomplish these goals.  He is an outstanding representation of the future of the Oregon Department of Forestry,” said Shelly Hoffer, ODF Southwest Wildland Fire Supervisor.
The department chooses one firefighter throughout the entire state to recognize on an annual basis. We are ecstatic that this year’s honor goes to someone as hardworking as Tyler who has been dedicated to the Southwest Oregon District in Jackson and Josephine Counties since 2006.
“Being able to watch Tyler grow both personally and professionally over the past decade has been remarkable,” said ODF Southwest Assistant District Forester, Tyler McCarty, “I’m so proud of him; I feel like a proud dad.”
Tyler continuously demonstrates a high level of commitment to his training, public education, fire prevention and other agency operations. His allegiance to his fellow firefighters not only supports our department policies, but he works to help others achieve personal goals as well.
“He sets the example day-to-day. He is always the pillar in our agency that people look up to and respect. He helps empower people to succeed,” ODF Southwest Protection Supervisor, Karl Witz.
Tyler is seen as a leader and the “go-to” person for questions. He is skilled in bringing others together to work as a team, recognizing each person’s unique skills and talents, and how those will best contribute to success.
“I appreciate his willingness to support and provide assistance on tasks and projects no matter how big or small they are,” said Kyndra Von Essen, ODF Southwest Wildland Dispatcher.
He constantly goes beyond his normal duties and expectations to make visible improvements that have enhanced the agency’s ability to reduce fire losses and to better serve the community.
“The Firewise community of Forest Hills could not be more pleased to congratulate Tyler Averyt on winning this award. He is so deserving; he has supported us 100% by starting new programs, improving old ones and has an energy level that is unmatched.  He is definitely a spark,” said Ruth and Gene Lambert, Firewise Community members.
Not only does he excel at his day-to-day job, but takes pride in every aspect of his work including fire team assignments that give him the opportunity to face new challenges. In the past year, he served on several fire assignments in various positions, including Task Force Leader, Heavy Equipment Boss and Contract Administrator. He continues to increase his skills and abilities in wildland fire leadership by serving as a Trainee Air Tactical Group Supervisor and working on his task book as a Helicopter Manager. He is always challenging himself and willing to take on anything thrown his way.
Tyler was nominated for this award by his colleagues and supervisor, Shelly Hoffer, Kyndra Von Essen, and Karl Witz. His entire team here at ODF Southwest Oregon district could not be more proud of Tyler and his achievements. We are thrilled to have him as part of the ODF Southwest family.
“The camaraderie is the best part, no words can really describe it. We are a team through and through. Every day is different and comes with a new challenge, and as a team we overcome those challenges together. It’s rewarding to see the impact we can have on our local community,” said Tyler Averyt, the 2016 Seasonal Firefighter Leadership Award recipient.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Reminder: Fire Season Remains in Effect, Debris burning is prohibited

As a reminder, last weekend’s rainfall did not lift fire season restrictions. Fire season went into effect on Sunday, June 4. During fire season, debris burning is unsafe; therefore, it is prohibited. Other prohibited actions during fire season include the use of fireworks, tracer ammunition and exploding targets on ODF-protected lands.

             After a wet winter, the high volume of dead grass and hotter conditions is increasing fire danger on the Oregon Department of Forestry Southwest Oregon District.

            “As things continue to dry out, the abundance of dead grass acts as a fuse for fast moving fires,” said ODF Southwest Oregon District Forester, Dave Larson, “this is one of the many reasons that we take violation of debris burning during fire season very seriously.”

           Since January 1, 2017 ODF Southwest firefighters alongside are partnering agencies have already responded to over 35 wildfires in Jackson and Josephine Counties. Fourteen of those were due to debris burning. 

           “We are asking that residents do not fall into a false sense of security when temperatures cool for a couple days. It only takes one warm, dry or windy day to drive down fuel moisture to a point where grass and other fine fuels will readily carry fire. This is why debris burning remains prohibited,” said Lee Winslow, ODF Southwest Assistant District Forester.

            While outdoor burning of landscape debris by homeowners is no longer allowed, we are asking residents to ensure that they are prepared for wildfires by maintaining a minimum of 100 feet of defensible space around every home and building on their property.

           Here are some tips on how to dispose of yard waste without burning:
  • §  Chipping
  • §  Composting/Mulching
  • §  Curbside Pickup
  • §  Greenwaste Facility
  • §  Biomass Energy Facility

            Eliminating debris burning not only reduces the chance of fire spread, but it could also prevent you from receiving a citation, or even a bill for the cost of fire suppression. While a citation ranges from $110 to $435; the cost of fire suppression can quickly become thousands of dollars.

            If you know of someone doing an illegal debris burn in your area, report it. Your awareness and cooperation with us can help prevent the next wildfire.

          For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season restrictions and regulations, or to report a fire, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:
·         Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
·         Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152

         Fire season information is also available online at our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest and our website: www.swofire.com.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fire Season on ODF-Protected Lands Begins Sunday

Fire season on lands protected by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) Southwest Oregon District begins Sunday, June 4, at 12:01 a.m. The fire danger level will be “low” (green) and the Industrial Fire Precaution Level (IFPL) will be 1 (one). Lands affected by this declaration include state, private, county, city and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) forestlands in Jackson and Josephine counties.

“Temperatures are starting to rise, our vegetation is drying out and summer weather patterns are arriving,” said ODF District Forester, Dave Larson. “We never know what a fire season may bring, but the last several years demonstrate our area’s potential for wildfires.”

Beginning Sunday, the burning of debris piles and the use of burn barrels for burning debris will no longer be allowed in Jackson and Josephine counties. Other fire season restrictions include the use of exploding targets, tracer ammunition and fireworks.

The 2017 fire season may be another active one. A good snowpack in the Cascade Range and the Siskiyou Mountains recharged many of the southwest Oregon region’s reservoirs, but may have little positive effect on wildfire activity in the district, most of which covers low-elevation grass and brush lands and mid-elevation forests. Residual snowpack is at higher elevations on national forest and national park lands.

“While the wet winter may help the higher elevations during the start of fire season, the grasses in the lower elevations are already beginning to lose their moisture. By the time we hit August in the southwestern portion of the state, we are still expecting to have an average fire season which means responding to roughly 6 to 10 fires per day,” said ODF Protection Supervisor, Bill Smith.

Last year, fire season started on June 3 and ended October 13 lasting a total of 133 days. A total of 209 fires burned on lands protected by the Southwest Oregon District, and blackened 726 acres. More than 200 of those fires were started by people and six fires by lightning in 2016. According to the 10-year average of fires on the district, 230 fires may burn more than 5,600 acres during fire season.
For more information about the Oregon Department of Forestry’s fire season regulations, please call or visit the Southwest Oregon District unit office nearest to you:

·         Medford Unit, 5286 Table Rock Rd., Central Point. (541) 664-3328
·         Grants Pass Unit, 5375 Monument Dr., Grants Pass. (541) 474-3152

Fire season information is also available online at our Facebook page: @ODFSouthwest and
our website: www.swofire.com.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Risk for Wildfires Increasing -- Use Caution When Burning Debris

While the above average rainfall has led to a lower fire risk the past month, it has also led to an abundance of grass and brush. Despite the unusually wet winter and extended spring, temperatures have already begun to increase and all the grass and brush has begun to dry out enough to raise the risk for wildfires.

ODF Southwest Oregon District is urging residents to take advantage of this time to prepare for #wildfires by creating a 100 foot zone of defensible space around their homes. However, people need to take caution when working with fire to rid of excess debris.

“Last year’s wildfires once again highlighted how important it is for homeowners to prepare their homes to survive a wildfire,” said Lee Winslow, Assistant District Forester, “However, warmer temperatures and curing grasses often increase the risk of burn piles escaping.”

Debris burning is the number one human-caused wildfire, with many fires taking place in the late spring and early fall. State law requires the proper clearing, building, attending and extinguishing of open fires any time of year. A first-time citation carries a $110 fine. If your debris burn spreads out of control, you are responsible for the cost of fire suppression and very likely the damage to neighboring properties. This can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.

A burn pile is less likely to escape if these simple safety tips are followed:
• Seek alternatives to burning, such as chipping or recycling the debris.
• If you decide to burn the material, call your structural fire department to see if a burning permit is required.
• Call your county’s air quality office to find out whether debris burning is allowed that day. The number in Jackson County is (541) 776-7007; in Josephine County call (541) 476-9663.
• Know the weather forecast and avoid burning on dry, windy days.
• Construct the burn pile in an isolated area so the flames will not spread to adjacent vegetation. Make sure there are no overhanging branches or powerlines above the pile.
• Dig or scrape down to mineral soil to form a fire line around the burn pile.
• Keep the burn pile small. A small pile is easier to control than a large one. A small pile of 4x4 feet is recommended. You can add additional debris as existing material is consumed.
• Have a shovel and water at the burn pile site. If the site can be reached with a garden hose, make sure the hose extends at least 25 feet beyond the pile’s location.
• Never use gasoline or other accelerants to start or increase your open fire. Every year, 10 to 15 percent of all burn injuries treated at the Oregon Burn Center in Portland are the result of backyard debris burning.
• Burn only yard debris. State regulations prohibit the open burning of any material that creates dense smoke or noxious odors.
• Stay with the fire until it is completely out. Monitoring a debris burn continually from start to finish is required by state law to ensure that any escaped sparks or embers can be extinguished quickly. Check and recheck your burn pile to guarantee it is dead out.

In addition to burning excess debris, the following tips should be considered when planning your homes’ safety against a wildfire:
• Remove all flammable vegetation 30 feet from all structures.
• Space trees and plants away from each other at least 100 feet from all structures.
• Clear all needles and leaves from roofs, eaves and rain gutters.
• Trim branches six feet from the ground.
• Use trimming, mowing and power equipment before 10 a.m. and after 6 p.m., not in the heat of the day and not during extremely dry and windy days.
• Landscape with fire resistant plants.
• Use fire ignition resistant building materials.

Remember #DefensibleSpace is your responsibility.