WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley announced today that Oregon has received the federal funding it needs to train two additional National Guard teams to help fight wildfires in Oregon.
On Wednesday, September 9, Governor Kate Brown announced her intention to train the additional teams. However, the National Guard Bureau initially indicated that it could not provide the financial resources necessary for the additional training. Merkley intervened, and prompted the National Guard Bureau to find additional resources within the training program to allow two firefighting teams to be trained and deployed.
The training will begin as soon as an instructor can reach Oregon, and will take four to five days to complete.
“This unprecedented wildfire season is an all-hands-on-deck situation, and I’ve been doing everything I can to secure the federal resources we need to respond as aggressively and quickly as possible,” said Merkley. “After our devastating 2017 wildfire season, I worked to create this program, and last year I was able to grow it, and now we have resources available when we need them most. I thank National Guard Bureau Chief General Hokanson and all of the brave and dedicated National Guard service members for their invaluable help during this time of immeasurable crisis.”
Merkley, a member of the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, created the National Guard wildfire fighting training program in 2017, with $7 million. This fiscal year, Merkley successfully grew the program to $8.5 million to train National Guard teams to assist with wildfire fighting efforts across the West. Oregon initially received approximately $900,000 to train three teams of 125 National Guard service members; those 375 members are being deployed across the state. By bringing additional funding to Oregon, there will soon be a total of five National Guard teams fighting fires in Oregon.