Spin Control

Preparing for fire season

OLYMPIA -- Gov. Jay Inslee deploys a fire shelter during a test people must take to be allowed to go to a Department of Natural Resources fire line during a wildfire. (Jim Camden)
OLYMPIA -- Gov. Jay Inslee deploys a fire shelter during a test people must take to be allowed to go to a Department of Natural Resources fire line during a wildfire. (Jim Camden)

Inslee deploys a fire shelter.

OLYMPIA -- Jay Inslee completed one of the annual spring rituals for a Washington governor this morning: passing the test for minimum wildfire training in the advance of the state's fire season.

To do this, one must walk a mile in no more than 16 minutes. He managed it in just over 13, strolling with Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark staff and assorted media, on a course laid out by the Department of Natural Resources at Capitol Lake. Possibly most impressive, he did it in his dress shoes.

One must also demonstrate the ability to unpack and crawl into a fire shelter in 26 seconds. He had a few seconds to spare.

"I'm trying to get a budget through the Washington Legislature. Geting into a fire shelter is nothing," he told reporters afterwards.

This doesn't qualify one to fight wildfires in the forests or ranges. That's a much tougher test. This is the minimum for going up to the fire line.

Summers are getting warmer, drier and longer with each passing decade, and tree kills by beetles more frequent, Inslee said, which means fire seasons in most years are getting more longer and more intense.

One might assume that if the governor showed up at a wildfire, they'd let him go to the fireline if he wanted, but governors usually take the test to show support for the DNR.




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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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