Oregon senators say Spanish-speaking firefighters risking their lives and protecting communities need materials in their native language
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged federal officials to publish training materials in Spanish as well as English for wildfire crews battling dangerous blazes in Oregon and the West.
The letter from Wyden and Merkley as well as California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris follows a disturbing report that the National Wildfire Coordinating Group no longer publishes training materials in Spanish for wildland fire crews risking their lives in steep and dangerous terrain.
“Given that a significant number of these brave wildland fire crews speak Spanish as their native language, it would be wiser and safer to provide bilingual training materials,” the senators wrote in their letter to National Wildfire Coordinating Group Chairman Garth Fisher. “The alternative is to risk danger and harm by requiring that all firefighters rapidly attempt to understand training materials that are only available in English.”
The senators urged the National Wildfire Coordinating Group to resume publishing current firefighting training materials in Spanish and to begin producing bilingual versions of key manuals like the Incident Response Pocket Guide.
“Firefighters must be provided with clearly understandable, updated training materials so that they can operate safely and respond to wildfires expeditiously and efficiently,” the senators wrote.
The entire letter is available here.