Oklahoma Forestry Services Provides Wildfire Training and Radios to Wildland Task Forces

Cold, dry and windy conditions combined with the effects from the region’s long-term drought are keeping firefighters across Oklahoma on alert for wildfire calls. Officials with Oklahoma Forestry Services (OFS), a division of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, are monitoring worsening conditions and preparing for an active winter fire season.

Preparations this year include offering training for county wildland task forces from fire departments across the state and providing the task forces with radios to improve communications.

“After last summer, when we had one of the largest wildfires in state history near Mannford, we received numerous calls from fire departments requesting specialized training for battling wildfires,” said George Geissler, Oklahoma State Forester. “These requests emphasized the results of reviews conducted following the wildfires that identified training and communications as two of the most critical needs because of the safety concern for firefighters on the ground.”

During this past week, firefighters from departments across the state met in Mustang and attended training provided by OFS personnel on topics including wildland firefighting tactics, firing operations, structure triage, communications, and task force roles and responsibilities. In addition to training, OFS is distributing over $50,000 in new radios, purchased with a federal wildfire preparedness grant, to the county wildland task forces across the state. The outcome will be better prepared, safer and more effective response to the state’s wildfires.

“For the 29 task forces that have participated in the training and are equipped with the new radios, this means improved firefighter safety, more effective response, and better communication with each other, with Oklahoma Forestry Services resources, and with aircraft,” said Mark Goeller, OFS assistant director in charge of fire operations. “County wildland task forces are participating in these trainings so that our state will be better prepared for the next wildfire outbreak.”

For the latest information on the wildfire danger, drought conditions or burn bans visit www.forestry.ok.gov/fire or call the OFS office at 405-522-6158.