The Oregon State Fire Marshal’s Wildfire Season Staffing Grant returned for a second year and Philomath Fire & Rescue is again a recipient of funding to help boost its firefighting capabilities.

“Last year, we received $35,000 and spent all but $10,150, which was brought forward to this year,” Philomath Fire & Rescue Deputy Chief Rich Saalsaa said. “OSFM added another $24,850 for a total of $35,000 to be spent this year.”

The fire marshal’s office awarded $6 million in grants to 185 fire agencies across the state. This year, OSFM said small agencies, many of which depend on volunteers, were prioritized to receive funding.

“This grant is a beacon of hope for fire districts like ours, burdened by limited funding,” Mt. Angel Fire Chief Jim Trierweiler said in a press release. “It provides a lifeline, empowering us to overcome financial constraints and a shortage of volunteers. With this invaluable support, we can expand our team with skilled individuals, fortifying our mission to serve and protect our community this fire season.”

Philomath has experienced those same constraints in terms of availability to volunteers.

“We are hiring two part-time firefighters to help augment conflagration responses and backup for increased fire activity in our area through October,” Saalsaa said.

Fire agencies were eligible to apply for up to $35,000 in funding.

“The OSFM staffing grant has turned what has been a long-term vision and goal for McKenzie Fire and Rescue into a reality,” Chief Darren Bucich said in the press release. “Additional staffing will help us build on our ability to provide consistent alarm response, timely auto and mutual aid response, and the ability to continue to be a part of conflagrations.”

The 2022 grant added roughly 400 paid firefighters to the Oregon fire service during last summer’s wildfire season. The grant is part of the OSFM’s Response Ready Oregon initiative. The funding was made possible through Senate Bill 762, which was signed into law in 2021.