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Oregon fire departments receive state aid ahead of wildfire season

A Molalla Fire unit, funded through the Wildfire Season Staffing Grant Program, in 2023. The grants are intended to support local fire departments during the busy summer seasons.
Oregon State Fire Marshal
A Molalla Fire unit funded through the Wildfire Season Staffing Grant Program in 2023. The grants are intended to support local fire departments during the dry summer months.

Fire departments across Oregon will receive more money for staffing ahead of this year’s wildfire season.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal has awarded 191 local agencies with up to $35,000 each, for a total of $6 million in new grants.

Fire Marshal spokesperson Kassie Keller said they've prioritized smaller departments that need a boost. She said this money will help agencies increase their firefighters’ hours this summer, hire more seasonal workers, and pay volunteers.

Keller said that this could make it easier for communities to fight wildfires without cutting other essential services.

“Things like a medical incident, a different type of fire, or a different call for help—these agencies have more staffing, so they’re more readily available to respond to these other types of calls as well," she said.

This is the third year of the Wildfire Season Staffing Grant program. Last year, it paid for 1,500 additional firefighters in the state, according to the Fire Marshal.

Previously, a state bill from 2021 provided the money for the grants. But this year, Keller said the program is relying on one-time funding which won't renew.

"Our agency is really excited to continue this grant, because it's just been so impactful," said Keller. "So we'll have to search for that money for the 2025 season."

Nathan Wilk joined the KLCC News Team in 2022. He is a graduate from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication. Born in Portland, Wilk began working in radio at a young age, serving as a DJ and public affairs host across Oregon.