International firefighters come to Ashland for training

Ashland, Ore. — Firefighters from three other countries, seven states, and 20 organizations are in Ashland Wednesday. They headed up into the forest Wednesday morning to learn new firefighting skills.

This is the first controlled burn this year for Ashland Fire and Rescue. Though the humidity level was working against them in igniting more prescribed fires, they said it’s good to just have practice.

People from all over the world come to Ashland. Some for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, others for the skiing. Wednesday, the visitors were there to learn how Ashland Fire and Rescue conducts controlled burns. Something that’s crucial to preserving the Ashland Watershed.

“We want to consume some of the surface fuels, some of the brush and vegetation, but we’re trying to maintain the over story of the forest,” said Amanda Stamper, fire manager for The Oregon Chapter of Nature Conservancy.

Learning how to maintain the forest is what attracted the latest group of working tourists.
Firefighters from around the world showed up to learn skills they can take back home.

“They’re also here to learn about prescribed burning and controlled fire because they don’t necessarily have a lot of that in their own country,” she said.

What is happening in Ashland, will eventually have a lasting impact on countries like Mexico and Ireland.

“We’ll often have participants who apply from other countries,” she said.

While the visiting firefighters are picking up useful tools, local firefighters are also learning a thing or two.

“We welcome them, because they often bring perspectives and skills that we don’t have in the United States. Part of the exchange, you’re both a teacher and a student at the same time,” she said.

Making it an equal exchange. Wednesday’s training had a total of 42 participants. Five of whom, were international firefighters.

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