A group of about 50 federal and state employees practiced firefighting techniques Thursday in the Deschutes National Forest south of Sisters.

The practice was part of a week of training that will allow participants to become qualified wildland firefighters.

The group included U.S. Department of Agriculture personnel, Bureau of Land Management staff and members of the Oregon Military Department.

Some in the group plan to become firefighters while others will use the training to be ready in extreme situations when all resources are needed.

“For some folks, they will have this as a summer job and never do it again, and for others, it will lead to a lifelong career in fire,” said Kassidy Kern, spokeswoman for the Deschutes National Forest.

Central Oregon Fire Management Service hosted the training, which included teaching the participants how to dig fire lines, use pumps and communicate with each other.

The participants are staying at the Biak Military Training Center east of Redmond, where they eat and sleep in tents just like they would while fighting a fire.

Part of the classroom training included teaching about the Central Oregon incident command system, which is used during fire season to coordinate a plan for local agencies to fight fires.

“It gives us a way to ensure everyone is on the same page with what the plan is,” Kern said.

On Thursday, the group went to the live-fire exercise 7 miles south of Sisters, off Forest Road 16 near Three Creek Lake. They learned how to safely set fire lines and mopped up the 2-acre area after the training.

“These people have never been around live fire in this context,” Kern said. “There is nothing like this.”

The new recruits were supervised and assisted by experienced wildland firefighters. Veteran firefighters go through a day-long fire refresher course each year, and are not required to participate in the same week-long training as the new recruits, Kern said.

The week-long training is a valuable experience, whether or not the participants pursue firefighting as a career. The training ends Friday with written tests.

Once the training is complete, the participants will be more comfortable at the scene of a fire, Kern said.

“They are going to experience all of these things at fires,” she said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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