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Think Out Loud

Exploring Firefighter Fatigue

Pete Springer/OPB

It’s been an intense fire season in Oregon and the Northwest. Governor Kitzhaber has said this is the worst fire season in more than a decade. This week, rain and humidity have helped quell the spread of the Government Flats fire near The Dalles and other blazes. But farther south, the Rim Fire outside of Yosemite is still burning, potentially threatening parts of the Bay Area’s water supply. That blaze is only 20 percent contained

The fires take a toll. Earlier this month, Kevin Hall of Ontario, Oregon died while working on a bulldozer crew improving a fire line. Before that, 19-year-old Jesse Trader was killed when the water transport truck he was driving hit an embankment and rolled over. He had just finished a 12 hour night shift. It was his third day on the job. Those two fatalities follow on the death of John Hammock earlier this season, as well as the deaths of 19 members of a crew in Arizona in June.

The on-going fires and lingering hot weather are expected to keep firefighters busy for the rest of the summer and into the fall.

Have you worked as a firefighter? How did you prevent fatigue? What do you enjoy about your job? What are the challenges?


  • Steve Rawlings: Fire Operations Specialist with the U.S. Forest Service
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