firefighters

WASHINGTON - The Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is cutting back on hiring and training firefighters because of the partial government shutdown.

"We use our post-fire season and our pre-fire season to train our firefighters, and not just our firefighters, but our local, state and federal agencies," said Hilary Franz, Commissioner of Public Lands, DNR.

Franz also says several training courses have already been canceled with the possibility of more, which would also impact firefighters from Oregon and Alaska.

"Right now the Department of Natural Resources leads one of our biggest trainings each year, which is about 750 of our firefighters, and it is in March, and in one week we are going to decide whether we have to cancel that because of the government shutdown," said Franz.

Franz says DNR has never planned for a government shutdown that has lasted this long, but that they are learning from this experience.

"This state needs to do everything possible to be more resilient, and more dependent on itself, the resources it has and training our firefighters so we have enough men and women and enough resource equipment," said Franz.

Another reason this is and will be a huge impact is because over the years there has been an increase in fires.

"A significant growth in the number of fires. With 1,850 fires this year that being the largest we've ever had. It is absolutely critical that we have resources pre-positioned in those areas that we know we're likely to see more fires," said Franz.

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