MEDFORD, Ore. -- On Wednesday, Representative Greg Walden sat down with multiple fire agencies to talk about the 2020 fire season and COVID-19.
"Obviously fighting fires is tough enough; throw COVID-19 on top of it and you've got an additional unprecedented challenge," said Rep. Walden. "I think it's really positive news their initial plan is to do a very aggressive initial attack and get these fires out quickly. I think that will benefit us all."
Officials from the Oregon Department of Forestry, U.S Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management made it clear that this season, fires need to be put out as soon as possible — while also making sure it's done safely.
"From a health standpoint, from a reduction in smoke standpoint, and certainly from a cost standpoint," said Rep. Walden.
The other big topic is how firefighting will look during a pandemic. Firefighters will need to wear a mask and maintain social distancing. Huge fire camps are also not going to be used this year. Different Firefighter groups will be spread out.
"I think the biggest concern I have coming out of the meeting is the issue of testing," said Walden. These fire departments are still figuring out how testing will work if someone gets infected or if there is a spread.
"Making sure our firefighter's health is maintained, is essential," Walden continued. It was clear that there is still a lot to learn when it comes to firefighting during a pandemic.