MERLIN, Ore. — It’s the third day of class for new recruits at Grayback Forestry. This coming on the 13th day of the wildfires.
“As soon as I got that call I was actually super excited because this is something I want to do, go help out and get these fires contained,” Victor Brown, a firefighter in training said.
While the recruits continue their training, Grayback Forestry President, Michael Wheelock, says they typically wrap up recruiting in June but this year they expect to be in it for the long haul.
“The fires that we have here in Southern Oregon, we expect a long siege, similar to that of 1987 when we had fires that went well into the fall,” Wheelock said.
Many of the fires are burning within only a few miles of the Grayback headquarters in Merlin. Wheelock says that can play to their advantage.
“Many of these folks have been up these road and these areas numerous times so it is an advantage having a strong, local workforce here that’s trained and ready to go,” Wheelock added.
Firefighting recruit Victor Brown has yet to be on the fire lines but says he already knows being from the area will be a big advantage.
“Here in Oregon it’s better because we know the weather patterns and stuff,” Brown said. “We’re from around this area and know the terrain better.”
Brown says he and his fellow trainees are eager to get out and help fight the fire.
“Fire is the enemy and we want to battle it in every way possible to get it put out and contained,” Brown added.
The new firefighters in training could be on their first fire as soon as Monday.