Keeping firefighting in the family

The News Review has an interesting article about an Oregon family that has several members involved in fire management. Here is how it begins; check out the entire article and more photos HERE.

It was like a scene from a movie, but with a twist. Karen Swearingen of Douglas Forest Protective Association and her husband, Scott Swearingen, of the Oregon Department of Forestry. Jeff Wick, the News Review

Eighteen years ago, Scott Swearingen walked into the Drain office of the Douglas Forest Protective Association, looking for a supervisor on his first day on a fire engine crew.

All he saw was someone under a truck, apparently working on it. Then his wife-to-be, Karen, rolled out on a creeper. He remembers what went through his mind: “This is a pretty good deal, working with a girl who’s the same age and stuff.”

It might even have been love at first sight, Scott, 39, said during a recent interview. Karen Swearingen remembers the summer this way: “He was my crew boy,” she joked, of being the crew chief on Scott’s fire engine crew.

So began the couple’s relationship, both in the firefighting field and outside of it. Today that family tradition has extended to Karen’s 17-year-old daughter, Demi Shoffner, who just completed a second summer of work for DFPA.

The agency, which fights local fires on private and Bureau of Land Management land, seems to attract family members as employees, Scott said.

He can name several employees whose family ties to the agency go back generations. He knows siblings who have both worked for years at DFPA.

He chalks it up to the sense of family that develops on the fire line. For two weeks, “you’re basically living and working together 24/7. You get to know people like that,” Scott said. “You build relationships, friendships that carry through.”

Thanks Kelly

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One thought on “Keeping firefighting in the family”

  1. The study says that dead trees burn with less intensity but did they look at increased ease of ignition possibly being higher in dead trees?


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