173rd FW Airmen prepare for wildland fire season

Airmen assigned to the 173rd Fighter Wing don Oregon department of Forestry uniforms and extinguish a grass fire during wildland firefighter training at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore., May 7, 2023. The training took place at the 173rd Fighter Wing and serves to ready Oregon Air Guardsmen to aid the state when wildland fires outpace state resources during hot summer months under the auspices of Operation Plan Smokey. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Adriana Scott)

KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. – Local Air National Guard members are preparing to fight wildfires if called upon this summer.

This month, the 173rd Fighter Wing based out of Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls partnered with the Oregon Department of Forestry to train 20 airmen in the “Red Card” certification.

“We are tasked with training Guardsmen on [Operations Plan] Smokey which allows us during high fire times to deploy the National Guard to help with fire assignments,” said Jake Barnett, the protection supervisor for ODF in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

The 173rd FW said Operation Plan Smokey will provide extra resources in times of need as part of an interagency agreement between the Oregon Military Department and ODF.

“To ensure your Oregon Guardsmen are ‘always ready, always there’, we trained three additional 22-person teams this year, creating a larger pool of individuals to pull from to meet our state’s needs,” said 173rd FW Commander Colonel Lee Bouma.

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