Department of Forestry Joins Interagency Dispatch Center

The Dalles, Ore.  Wildland fire fighting resources for Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) The Dalles Unit are being dispatched from Columbia Cascade Communication Center (CCCC) in Vancouver, Washington this fire season.  For decades resources have been dispatched locally from the ODF office in The Dalles, Oregon, a stand-alone dispatch center coordinating with federal and fire district partners and firefighters on the ground, sometimes responding to multiple fire starts.  This fire season ODF joined CCCC interagency dispatch center, which employs several dispatchers and support personnel, who provide initial attack dispatching, aviation and logistical support for small and large incidents. All to efficiently manage firefighter needs and response across a broad geographic region.  The dispatch center uses a “closest forces” concept to respond to fires, essentially the closest firefighters respond to a fire, irrelevant of landowner or jurisdiction.  This coordinated response and tracking of cooperating resources was the impetus for ODF joining the interagency dispatch center.

As part of the integration into CCCC, the Department of Forestry hired Karen Spencer as Assistant Center Manager.  “Karen’s work will be critical as we transition from our current dispatch processes to working with our federal partners in the interagency dispatch center,” says Kristin Dodd, Unit Forester for The Dalles Unit.  “I am excited to have been able to make this happen for the 2020 fire season.”  In addition to hiring an assistant center manager, Ben Hansel was hired as a seasonal dispatcher, providing added capacity to meet the increased workload.

It may seem strange to have the dispatch center located so far away, even in a different state, but coordinating between responding agencies improves the response to wildfires on all ownerships.  The Columbia Cascade Communication Center dispatches wildland fire resources for Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Mt. Hood National Forest, and now includes Oregon Department of Forestry’s The Dalles Unit.  The Dalles Unit provides wildland fire protection for private, state owned, and county owned lands in Hood River and Wasco counties.  The Dalles Unit will continue to coordinate with local fire departments to provide wildfire response and mutual aid within the Central Oregon District.

ODF’s Central Oregon District continues to serve landowners and the public as an essential service for Oregonians.  Please call or email to talk with our staff or schedule an appointment.  For additional information on ODF’s Central Oregon District, including contact information and unit offices, please visit www.ODFcentraloregon.com.

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