|| Print ||
|Wednesday, July 18, 2012|
BY PETER BELAND
The wildfires that have ravaged over 700,000 acres of land in southeast Oregon have required rapid mobilization of hundreds of firefighting personnel and resources, with private contractors playing a significant role.
On the evening of Sunday, July 9th, Melissa Powers, Bureau of Land Management Vale district administrative officer, heard about a fire that had broken out and grown to around 1,500 acres. When she got her team together the next morning to plan out a containment strategy, the fire had grown to 20,000 acres. (The Long Draw fire would eventually grow to over 500,000 acres).
Powers’ office normally has roughly 100 permanent staff with an additional 100 seasonal workers in the summers. After a series of staff transfers, she’d eventually have 100 additional BLM fire management staff to help manage the conflagration.
But even with the additional staff, it still wasn’t enough to handle the deluge of contracts. So Powers eventually called on the help of a Forest Service administrative payment team. Their main task? Managing contracts with private operators.
“Every piece of equipment has a separate payment contract, we already have a full plate,” says Powers. “We rely heavily on contractors...all the way from engines to...caterers.”
Despite the demand, the recent Oregon wildfires are not necessarily having a big impact on the local fire fighting industry's bottom line. That’s in part because many private firms, especially equipment operators, enter into long term contracts with government agencies. Home to roughly two thirds of the nation’s private firefighting resources, many contractors also do steady business out of state.
Five years ago, the Forest Service used to rely exclusively on “call in” helicopters to help fight fires, said Dan Sweet, spokesperson for Aurora- based Columbia helicopters. But today, Sweet says, the forest service relies more heavily on “exclusive use contracts": long term agreements in which private companies such as Columbia give government agencies control of equipment.
For example, Columbia operates across the western United States, with four of its 21 helicopters on a exclusive use contract with the Forest Service this year and one on-call. The four exclusive use helicopters have been all over the western states this season and only recently have come to Oregon.
The long term contracts help companies such as Columbia compensate for the erratic, somewhat cyclical nature of wildfires in the West, Sweet said.
Greyback Forestry, an Oregon firefighting company, has been doing a brisk business fighting conflagrations in Colorado and Wyoming, said president Michael Wheelock. But the company didn't send many crew members to Southeast Oregon, he said. That's in part because the fast spreading grass and brush fires are best contained via helicopter, not ground crews, he said.
Both Wheelock and Sweet emphasized that the local fire fighting season was just getting started. "Last year was the second or third year that was quiet,” says Sweet. “We’re only part way into it...this could be an active fire season for Oregon.”
|100 Best Green Workplaces in Oregon|
|The Green Paradox|
|Up in the Air|
|Queen of Resilience|
|Report says Intel, Altera deal near|
|DEQ fines Tillamook creamery|
|Pranksters discover iPhone text glitch that shuts down your phone|
|Google: We created $939M in Oregon economic activity last year|
|Information of more than 100K taxpayers breached|
|Media CEOs majority of top-10 highest paid|
|Two protesters chain themselves to Shell ship outside of Bellingham|
Tonkon Torp helps seed sustainability at Gunderson.
Oregon-based Environments helps companies create inspired workspaces. “Simply put, we help companies future-proof their workspaces,” says Chris Corrado, president. Since 1988,Environments has witnessed firsthand the changing landscape of business. Native Portlander and Environments founder Corrado says, “We help our clients navigate the complex realities of the workplace today and plan for their future in a very mindful, strategic way. We think of ourselves as their partners in the process.”
One hundred years ago, the Willamette River might easily have been mistaken for a sewer. Unchecked industrial activity and decades of pollution made it unrecognizable compared to the clean river that now flows north for 187 miles from Eugene through the center of Portland.
Sussman Shank LLP served as lead counsel for both the sale of 9 assisted living, memory care, and independent living campuses in Washington, Oregon, and California to a publicly-traded REIT, and the acquisition of 11 single-tenant net lease properties. This transaction was unique because it included both the sale of licensed senior housing facilities and a complicated 1031 tax deferred exchange transaction.
The Oregon Entrepreneurs Network (OEN) will be presenting its third annual Entrepreneurial Summit on Friday, June 5 at Castaway in Portland, Oregon.
On June 13th Mayor Charlie Hales will attend nonprofit organization Dream Change’s inaugural Love Summit and will introduce one of its keynote speakers, Dan Wieden of Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency.