Blog > August 2021

Washington Army National Guard Prepares for Wildfire Season

Washington Army National Guard Prepares for Wildfire Season

Washington Army National Guard Private First-Class Xavier Cha practices with a flare during wildfire training with the Washington Department of Natural Resources in Rainier, Washington. (Photo by Joseph Siemandel)


Washington Army National Guard Prepares for Wildfire Season

When you join the Army National Guard, you’re joining a team with purpose and setting yourself up for a successful future. You’re also making a commitment  ̶  to yourself and your community. Read how the Army National Guard trains their part-time Soldiers to serve in their State.


RAINIER, Washington – With the summer months in full swing, the Washington Army National Guard is preparing for what could be a busy fire season.

“We successfully trained 180 Guardsmen during the four academies. Mixed with our recertification, we will have approximately 250 service members ready to support the fire teams,” said Major Donny Payne, Washington Army National Guard firefighting support coordinator.

In June, Guardsmen completed the fourth and final Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fire training academy in Rainier in preparation for the upcoming season.

With most of the State experiencing triple-digit temperatures this summer, the Washington Army National Guard has the potential to be activated earlier than usual. National Guard ground firefighters typically are activated in late August or early September to augment fire teams that lose crew members heading back to school.

“We have seen the need for our Guardsmen to help with wildland firefighting increase since 2013,” said Major General Bret Daugherty, Adjutant General, Washington Army National Guard. “Our team has done a fantastic job not just getting training available, but building the program up, helping us be more prepared to support when the state needs us.”

Like previous years, aviation assets from 96th Aviation Troop Command have trained and certified with the Department of Natural Resources. In early June, Chinook helicopter crewmembers completed their classroom and drop training.

“From all we are hearing from meteorologists with the DNR, this will be an intense fire season,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Ryan Schwend, a Chinook pilot with 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation.

Washington isn’t the only western state preparing for wildfire season. Guardsmen in Oregon, California, and Arizona actively engaged in fire training this spring. Fires devastated the west last year, with more than 7 million acres destroyed.

“We know that this isn’t just a State problem, and we all need to be prepared to fight the common enemy,” said Major General Daugherty.

If you’re looking for leadership training, the Army National Guard is looking for you. The National Guard gives you the opportunity to pursue a civilian career while serving part-time in your home state, so you can stay close to your family and friends. With positions in more than 130 career fields, you can find your perfect fit. Check out the job board for more information on available careers and contact a local recruiter to learn more. 


From an original article by Joseph Siemandel, Joint Force Headquarters - Washington Army National Guard, which appeared in the news section of in June 2021.