South Lane Fire & Rescue Fire Chief John Wooten with Lane County Fire Defense Board’s Outstanding Intergovernmental Team award. SCOTT OLSON/THE CRESWELL CHRONICLE
The Lane Council of Governments (LCOG) held its Annual Member Appreciation Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 10, on the main campus of Lane Community College at the Center for Meeting and Learning.
Each year, LCOG celebrates regional accomplishments for the prior year and recognizes elected officials, economic enhancement, intergovernmental teams, public employees and citizens.
Approximately 150 elected and appointed officials, and business and community members from across Lane County attended the dinner.
At the Annual Member Appreciation Dinner, LCOG honored local fire agencies and the heroes who serve our Lane County communities. Fire Chief John Wooten, second in command at the Lane County Fire Defense Board, accepted the Outstanding Intergovernmental Team award on behalf of LCFDB.
Last summer seems so long ago and some of you may have a hard time remembering what you did last summer. But you will probably remember what you didn’t do – many of you didn’t go hiking, or walking, or running or biking. Some of you tried not to go outside – remember why? Smoke. It was everywhere and it was bad. It was so bad, sometimes LRAPA’s equipment could not even register how bad it was.
There is an old adage: where there is smoke, there is fire. So not only was there smoke, there was fire. Lots of fire and fire in Lane County. The fires were easier to forget because, for the most part, they were kept in check by the dedicated people who make up the 24 fire districts/departments and the seven associated agencies throughout Lane County – more commonly known as the Lane County Fire Defense Board.
The Board is responsible for coordinating resources for fires within Lane County and for assistance outside of Lane County.
While 2017 was not an unusual fire season, Oregon experienced several large fires within a one-month period, shutting down highways, public lands and events. Over 1,080 fires raged throughout Oregon, burning several hundred thousand acres. During the second week of October, there were six large fires burning between 300 and 190,000 acres across the state and numerous smaller fires. We knew these fires by their names: Milli, Jones, Miller Complex, Horse Creek, Eagle Creek and Chetco Bar.
In early August, over 30 new fires were started by lightning in just one night in rural Lane County. Most of us didn’t know that – we wouldn’t know that – because of the efforts of the dedicated people who turned up to fight those fires. They are there when most of us are going about our lives; they are keeping us, our communities, our homes and businesses safe. And not just in Lane County – Lane County Fire Defense Board members assisted in several large fires outside Lane County including the Chetco Bar fire in Curry County that burned over 190,000 acres and took almost four months to contain.
And if fighting the fire wasn’t hard enough, equipment was stolen while the firefighters slept. And in December, when southern California fires raged, Lane County sent fire crews to assist.
This work is demanding, dangerous and unpredictable. And most of the individuals responding to calls are volunteers. With every call, the brave individuals of the Lane County Fire Defense Board agencies put themselves in harm’s way to protect their neighbors and their communities. Heroes.
Usually, when people think of heroes, they often think of people who fight crimes in movies or comic books, but those people don’t exist in the real world. But real heroes walk among us every day. They are often everyday people – your coworkers, your neighbors, the person who helps you at the local building supply store. These heroes make up the Lane County Fire Defense Board.