Firefighters Deal With Heavy Workload

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MEDFORD, Ore. — So far this year, fire crews have responded to 159 fires.  The Oregon Department of Forestry said, normally for the entire season, the number of fires average around 109.

Fire crews at the Oregon Department of Forestry, and area firefighters have been working lots of overtime.

Medford Fire and Rescue Station 3 is working with other fire districts on the Wildland Task Force, which is a group of combined fire districts trained to help contain and put out wildfires.  Since fire danger reached the level of extreme, Medford firefighters are taking extra precautions.

“We always have our fire gear with us, and we will staff the brush rig that we have, and we’ve been doing a lot of training recently,” said Medford firefighter Noah Davis.

According to Davis, the Wildland crew was dispatched twice in two days last week.

“Thursday and Friday we had two task forces activated which is pretty unusual.  Normally that would be the whole summer, and we had them back to back days,” said Davis.

Crews at the Oregon Department of Forestry are working long hours too.

“If that means we work 20 hours straight, then that means we work 20 hours straight and drink water as we go and stuff like that to keep us going,” said Oregon Department of Forestry employee, Taylor Wilkerson.

He said during this time of year he plans to work overtime.  Over the weekend, two men suffered from heat exhaustion while fighting wild fires.  Wilkerson said he is concerned about heat exhaustion, but he takes preventative measures to keep himself safe.

We’re always drinking lots of fluids and getting lots of sleep at night and eating good food… so that we’re ready to go to any fire at any time,” said Wilkerson.