ROCHELLE – As wildfires burn throughout the Western United States and Canda, four local men were called to head west to share their knowledge in wildland firefighting.
Locals including former Fire Chief and current City Councilman Tom McDermott, Fire Chief Dave Salwsville, Hillcrest Area Fire Chief Steve Builta and Ogle County Emergency Operations Coordinator Tim Richter spent four days in Oregon State training National Guard Members in wildland firefighting.
Since the regular firefighters in the western states are already deployed and occupied in the trenches of the wildfires, Oregon State Gov. Kate Brown called upon about 500 National Guard members to deploy to the state. Upon their arrival, they would require training in the field before setting off to work. Gov. Brown contacted the Oregon State Firefighter Training Academy who then called upon other states to send trainers their way.
The Rochelle four spent their days training the Oregon National Guard in Basic Wildland Firefighting at the Oregon Fire Academy. Immediately following their training, the Guard members were sent into the hot zones to put their training into practice.
Fire Chief Dave Sawlsville commented on the warm welcome and many thanks received on the way home from Oregon.
“They are a first-class operation in Oregon, right down to the TSA folks,” he recounted while telling of the thanks the group received throughout the airport and even on the plane. “Everyone was so appreciative to have the extra help.”