Fire Chiefs and Marshals,
It has been over a month since the historic Labor Day fires. If you are like me, we still may be reconciling the events of these fires and as we focus on our future we are faced with leading through a difficult time, not only for those we serve but also lead. In that vein I wanted to provide an update on the work of the OSFM and our focuses moving forward.
1. As we begin to look towards recovery, I don’t want to forget the response and the toll that takes on our fire service members. This is and will continue to be a difficult time for all Oregonians. October 10th, 2020 was World Mental Health day. This comes on the heels of Covid and the single greatest loss of property and souls combined in Oregon. The impacts this can have on our personnel is only compounded by the everyday stressors this job entails. Please consider taking a moment to share a few resources with your personnel, if you have not already:
2. The OSFM, OFMA & the OFCA have convened a working group to provide input to the Building Codes Division (BCD) as they evaluate the Oregon Residential Specialty Code and wildfire rebuilding. With over 4600 residences lost and 1400 other buildings, getting Oregonians back home will be a priority. This group will continue to provide input and be good partners while ensuring the priorities of the Oregon Fire Service are represented in the conversation. The OSFM will keep you updated on this topic as the conversation evolves.
3. The OSFM has reorganized to better serve the response, operations and the coordination of the Oregon Fire Mutual Aid System (OFMAS). Mariah Rawlins who has led the OFMAS, IMT program and the Fire Service Mobilization Plan for the past 6 years will now manage the Emergency Response Unit. This new unit will oversee the Agency Operations Center (AOC), the OFMAS, Interra and technology, IMT program and the reimbursement process for the fire service. Many of you have already been contacted by Mariah on the reimbursement process and this will be one of the office’s top priorities. Please watch your email for your packets and reach out if you have any questions.
4. Travis Medema is serving as the Interim Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal. His experience with budget, fire operations and legislative policy and process will serve the OSFM in a time that we need that skillset the most. Over the past three weeks he has worked with legislators & leadership to position the OSFM and the OFMAS with policy and legislation for interim funding to cover response costs, capacity evaluation and implementation and legislation from the Governor’s Wildfire council. If you have not met him please feel free to reach out to him at TMedema@osp.oregon.gov. He is a huge proponent of the fire service and has worked with many of you in his current position with the Oregon Dept. of Forestry.
5. The OSFM is still accepting nominations for “Heroes in fire”. If you would like to nominate an individual or group please send a brief statement to Michelle Peil at MPeil@osp.oregon.gov.
Thank you for your leadership this past month, the road to recovery will be long for Oregonians and the fire service, please do not hesitate to reach out to your Deputy State Fire Marshal or our office with any assistance you may need. We have been through a lot the past 34 days the following article is an excellent review of the Labor day fire events.
Thank you and take good care!
Office of the State Fire Marshal
O: 503. 934-8238