MEDFORD — A joint staffing program between ODF and ODOT, known as ‘Fire and Ice’ kicks off the winter season providing year-round work for employees through seasonal positions between the departments. Since the 1980s, the program retains experienced employees while providing opportunities in career advancement, leadership and relationship building.
“’Fire and Ice’ showcases the partnership between ODOT and ODF,” said ODOT Interim District 8 Manager Jeremiah Griffin. “It benefits everyone — especially our local communities —because we’re able to keep experienced staff year around between both agencies in highly specialized positions.”
These positions respond to dangerous situations in extreme conditions no matter the season, and it is ideal to have consistency from season to season and year-to-year, said Griffin. He adds the program gives ODOT needed staff, especially this year when the agency, like many others, are struggling to find enough employees to maintain roads at the level travelers expect. As a result, it may take more time to clear roads so travelers should plan accordingly.
This winter, nine ODF firefighters are transitioning to ODOT as winter road maintenance specialists through ‘Fire & Ice.’ Winter work with ODOT can vary from driving snowplows to operating equipment de-icing and sanding roadways. In late spring, they will return to ODF at the start of fire season to provide fire suppression support in Jackson and Josephine counties.
“We rely heavily on our seasonal workforce in the summer months to bolster our firefighting capabilities,” Acting ODF Southwest Oregon District Forester Tyler McCarty said. “While we’re continuing to work toward additional year-round positions, our partnership with ODOT and the ‘Fire & Ice’ program is an excellent opportunity to provide continuous work to our employees in a cost-effective way to the district, and ultimately, taxpayers.”