Vale Firefighting Progams Oregon/Washington BLM



Vale Firefighting Progams

Initial Attack

Vale OR Wildland Fire Suppression Team Logo

Equipment Resources assigned to Initial Attack in the Vale District include 19 fire engines (8 type 6 - light and 11 type 4 - heavy); a tactical tender (new in 2006); and a bulldozer.

There are eight guardstations positioned throughout the district: Baker, Burns Junction, Jordan Valley, Juntura, Ontario, Snake River, Unity, and Vale.

The Snake River Valley

Vale OR Snake River Valley Logo

The Snake River Valley (SRV) firefighting progam was developed at Vale, Oregon, by the Bureau of Land Managment in 1963. The severe fire season that year demonstrated a need for a well trained and organized firefighting force. For more than 40 years, the Vale SRV Fire Program has produced the largest trained group of Type II firefighters in the nation.

Historically, the crews have been more than 85 percent Hispanic, with courses often taught in both Spanish and English. The success of the program has led to an international partnership with the country of Mexico, and instructors from Mexico have participated in the SRV training camps and incorporated much of the training and operational information into their own national wildland firefighting program. This formal cooperation between our two countries has led to consistency in training as well as procedural and curriculum improvements for both countries.

Demographically, the Snake River Valley of Western Idaho and Eastern Oregon includes a large population of Mexican-Americans. In 1963, the workforce included a large percentage of farm laborers. Recognizing the ability to draw upon this labor pool and provide training and employment opportunities, the bi-lingual training program was developed and the SRV crews were formally established. Graduates of the training camps comprise a largely self-sufficient organization of between 300 to 1,000 firefighters annually.

Although trained, tested, and assigned through the BLM, the SRV crews are hired as emergency workers through the Ontario Employment Office.

Over the years, the SRV crews have built upon a tradition of excellence, pride, and hard work that has earned them recognition as one of the most respected wildland firefighting groups in the nation.

Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHCs)

Vale OR Interagency Hotshot Crews Logo

Interagency Hotshot Crews (IHCs) provide an organized, mobile, and skilled hand crew for all phases of wildfire suppression. The sponsoring unit (Vale) ensures compliance with established standards. The arduous duties, specialized assignments, and operations in a variety of geographic areas required of IHCs dictate that training, equipment, communications, transportation, organization, and operating procedures are consistent for all agency IHCs. The "Shots" are managed under the National Interagency Hotshot Crew Operations Guide.

Bart Yeager is the Vale Hotshots' Superintendent. Scott English is the Assistant Superintendent.