Alan Jones, based at Newport Fire Station, has returned this week from Oregon and, along with his Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service colleagues, has been commended in a letter from the Sisters-Camp Sherman Rural Fire Protection District to Hampshire and Isle of Wight Chief Fire Officer Dave Curry.
In his letter, Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District chief, Roger Johnson, highlighted the professionalism, courtesy and friendliness of the Hampshire and Island personnel as well as the way they engaged during meetings with other key agencies.
He told Dave Curry:
“All of your personnel represented your agency and country to the highest standard during their stay.”
Alongside Alan Jones on the exchange were Hampshire firefighters David Hodge, Glenn Bowyer, Craig Sadler and Rob Gazzard.
During their international firefighter exchange, the group undertook wildland fire training, including constructing fire lines and using emergency fire shelters. The training was put to quick use as the group joined 660 other firefighters to tackle a massive blaze over thousands of acres of pine forest at Canyon Creek – described as one of the state’s largest wildfires in recent history.
Fire chief Johnson said the Hampshire and Isle of Wight firefighters “quickly put their new skills to work assisting on the fire line and learning about how large wildland fires are managed in the United States”.
He added that the professionalism and friendliness of the visitors made everyone at the fire want to help them and provide as much training and information as possible.
When the Hampshire and Isle of Wight firefighters weren’t participating on the fireline they were attending training and meetings with other agencies and organisations responsible for wildland fire prevention and suppression – including a visit to the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho. NIFC coordinates all wildfire assets within the United States.
“The whole experience in Oregon was incredibly valuable and the highlight was the practical experience in areas such as backburning techniques, property protection, and general boots-on-the-ground issues.
“We spent two weeks out there, of which six days were involvement with the major incident in Canyon Creek. My main role there was to help a task force carry out structural protection and construct firelines.
“The visit to the NIFC was also a real eyeopener – particularly the scale of the operation, the logistics, and learning about some of the equipment they carry.”
Alan said there would be a debriefing carried out of all that had been learned in Oregon, which would lead to recommendations and a future training package for Hampshire and Island firefighters.
Chief officer for Hampshire Dave Curry, added:
“This international exchange has proved extremely valuable to the team we sent out to Oregon, and we now hope to share the benefits among personnel throughout our services in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
“The comments of the Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District chief were very generous and our team can take great credit for the way they represented the fire and rescue partnership of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
“We now look forward to welcoming firefighters from Oregon for their part of the exchange in the near future.”
Isle of Wight Council Executive member with responsibility for the fire and rescue service, Councillor Phil Jordan, said:
“We should be very proud of the way in which Alan and his colleagues have represented us in Oregon – and no doubt, much important information has been gathered to help enhance the future protection of our residents and natural environments.”