Public Safety Agencies and Utilities Participate in Union County Wildfire Simulation

LA GRANDE – (Release from Union County Emergency Management) On Tuesday, local fire management agencies, public utilities, and emergency response agencies came together at the Oregon National Guard Armory in La Grande for an all-day wildfire response simulation. The event simulated a complex and rapidly moving wildfire in Union County requiring communication among the participants as well as a coordinated response to, and management of, the incident.

The 58 participating personnel represented a broad range of response and services, ranging from volunteers for the American Red Cross to North Powder Rural Fire District personnel, U.S. Forest Service district rangers, several fire agency representatives, local law enforcement and 911 dispatch center staff among many others. By working together in exercises and emergency simulations such as this simulation, partnerships are strengthened which aids in successfully and efficiently achieving common goals while also testing capabilities. Many of the personnel from the wide range of participating organizations would have few opportunities to work together outside of real incidents if simulations such as this event was not made available.

The table-top exercise included scripted inputs to the participants throughout the day that required coordinated and time-sensitive critical decisions regarding fire response, resource management, evacuations, sheltering, mass-notification, traffic management, and public information. Added complexities included impacts to highways, utilities, and hazardous air quality.

The 25 agencies and organizations participating in the exercise (listed alphabetically) included:

  • American Red Cross
  • Baker County Emergency Management
  • Baker County Sheriff’s Office
  • Blue Mountain Interagency Dispatch
  • Bureau of Land Management
  • Center for Human Development
  • Community Connections of Northeast Oregon
  • Grande Ronde Hospital
  • La Grande Fire Department
  • La Grande Police Department
  • La Grande Rural Fire Protection District
  • North Powder Rural Fire District
  • Oregon Department of Forestry
  • Oregon Department of Transportation
  • Oregon State Fire Marshall’s Office
  • Oregon State Police
  • Oregon State University Extension
  • Oregon Trail Electric Cooperative
  • U. S. Forest Service – Umatilla National Forest
  • U. S. Forest Service – Wallowa Whitman National Forest
  • Union County 911 Dispatch
  • Union County Board of Commissioners
  • Union County Emergency Services
  • Union County Sheriff Search and Rescue
  • Union County Sheriff’s Office
  • Ziply Fiber