OSU Extension Fire Program to host preparedness webinars in May

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CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State University’s new Forestry & Natural Resources Extension Fire Program will host a series of three webinars in May to promote wildfire preparedness and prevention.

The free webinars are scheduled for May 8, May 15 and May 22. May is Wildfire Awareness Month.

Oregon has already seen two wildfires this year. While 2019 was a mild year for wildfire in the state, in 2018 Oregon’s cost to fight wildfires hit a record high of $514 million with over 800,000 acres burned.

With $2 million allocated by the Oregon Legislature for the 2019-21 biennium, OSU Extension implemented a new statewide fire program to help facilitate land management priorities, as well as create a healthy understanding and respect of fire through education and outreach efforts.

With the funding, the fire program will hire six regional fire specialists, who will be strategically placed in areas of greatest risk and need as the growing program expands the impact of current efforts and builds on existing partnerships.

“You can think of the fire program team as ‘boundary spanners,’” said Carrie Berger, Extension’s new fire program manager. “The team will work to build those important partnerships that are so crucial to mitigating Oregon’s risk of catastrophic wildfire.”

The first webinar is scheduled for 10 a.m. on May 8. It will cover topics such as current weather and fuel conditions (including drought), this year’s fire outlook, challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and people’s roles in where fires occur and how we can prevent them.

The speakers will be OSU Extension forester Daniel Leavell, Mike Totey, district forester for the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF); and Kristin Babbs, president and CEO of Keep Oregon Green.

The second webinar, scheduled for 1 p.m. on May 15, will address fire behavior and home ignition zone. Topics covered include the fire environment, embers, mitigating risk by taking care of hazards in the home ignition zone, and why structures ignite.

Speakers: Leavell, OSU Extension silviculture specialist Steve Fitzgerald, Jenna Trentadue, national fire plan coordinator for ODF; and Ryan Gordon, unit forester for ODF; and Megan Fitzgerald-McCowan, program coordinator at the National Fire Protection Association, Firewise USA.

The third webinar, scheduled for 1 p.m. on May 22, will focus on fire adapted communities and the Ready, Set, Go! Program. Attendees will gain an understanding of what it means to be prepared to evacuate, including a demonstration on how to build their personal go-packs.

Speakers: Jennifer Dietz, International Association of Fire Chiefs; Alison Green, Oregon: Living with Fire; Aaron Crawford, Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member; and Dave Busby, emergency fire manager for the City of Corvallis.

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