An announcement last week that the combined Lakeview and Klamath Falls interagency fire centers would be sited locally served as a major positive bit of news.
Lakeview District BLM Associate District Mgr. Heather Whitman and Lakeview District BLM/Fremont-Winema National Forest Interagency Staff Officer Joe Reinarz announced the decision at a special county commissioners meeting on Monday, May 13.
A formal press release was issued later that same day by the Forest Service.
Whitman affirmed that the consolidation of the two centers would create local job opportunities. Hiring would occur not only from within the agency but also from the public at large, she said.
“The single most important factor in making the decision was the socioeconomic factor,” Whitman said.
At present, Lakeview Interagency Fire Center (LIFC) employs five Forest Service positions, two Oregon Department of Forestry positions and four BLM positions. Whitman noted these are not all permanent positions, as the numbers include seasonal workers.
“It’s going to provide opportunities in Lakeview,” she said.
Positions within the dispatch center will range from radio responders checking on the status of engines responding to an incident, all the way up to a fire manager at the upper echelon. Whitman said there would be opportunities for motivated individuals to move up the ladder.
In Klamath Falls, there are three permanent positions that would be impacted. These employees would have the opportunity to transfer to Lakeview or elsewhere, Whitman said.
The organizational structure is hoped to be finalized by early July, which will then allow officials to move toward full implementation within the next year.
As the BLM and Forest Service are entering the 2013 fire season at present, the goal is to have the consolidation complete by this time next year, Whitman said.
Whitman said that the decision stemmed from internal meetings within the last six months, but the process started in 2011.
At that time, a study examining the options of combining both centers in either Lakeview or Klamath Falls commenced.