“Fire and Ice” program keeps seasonal employees busy all year

MEDFORD, Ore. — Some seasonal employees that fight fires in the summer for the Oregon Department of Forestry are working to keep roads clear for the Oregon Department of Transportation.

The statewide program “Fire and Ice” has been around since the mid-eighties.

The idea of the program is to better utilize state resources, when one agency is in it’s slow season, the other could use additional help.

About a dozen people in Jackson County are a part of “Fire and Ice.”

“It’s just the interchangeability of key employees that have those skill sets that are needed by both agencies at the time that they need them,” said Gary Leaming, public information officer for ODOT.

Seasonal employees aren’t required to do the program, however, applying to do so keeps them employed year round.

If they do well enough, “Fire and Ice” can also lead to better opportunities.

“A little bit more job security and a little bit more of a permanent position. It also gives them the incentive to stay here and come back for our next fire season, which is what we want,” said Natalie Weber, public information officer for ODF.

“We even hire from the program permanently and we have several managers who have been hired through the program,” Leaming said.

Employees also get to keep their benefits and retirement plans in place in the off-season.

“From a taxpayer point of view, you’re maximizing that state resource. From an employee point of view, you’re getting a variety in your position,” Leaming added.

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