‘Fire and Ice’ program provides year-round opportunities for seasonal workers
When you drive over a mountain pass in Oregon this winter, the person who cleared the highway of snow just might be a firefighter.
Since the 1980’s, some of the people hired by the Oregon Department of Forestry to fight wildfires in the summer have also worked for ODOT as snow plow drivers in the winter. The two agencies call the crossover employment opportunity the “Fire and Ice” program.
Even though wildfire season seems to get longer each year, there’s still relatively little overlap on the calendar between the two jobs.
“We need our seasonal workers in the summer for firefighting," said Oregon Department of Forestry spokesperson Natalie Weber. "And [the Oregon Department of Transportation needs] theirs in the winter for road maintenance. And so it really just became the perfect partnership to be able to help those employees to bridge the gap, and work within our agencies to find creative solutions for staffing.”
Even with the “Fire and Ice” program, ODOT has warned that a shortage of plow drivers might cause delays in getting roads cleared of snow this winter.