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Green Country firefighters work to avoid fatigue

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Reported by: Angela Hong
Updated: 1/27 5:54 pm Published: 1/27 5:20 pm

In January alone, there have been more than 80 wildfires in northeast Oklahoma.

FOX23’s Angela Hong found out how firefighters have been handling these fires and making sure they are not getting fatigued.

The firefighters told FOX23 they've been surprised how busy they've been this year tackling brush and grass fires.

They said it's unusual for this early in the year, so they have to be extra careful they're not being overworked.

In January, FOX23 tracked several wildfires in Osage County, including one north of Hominy that burned hundreds of acres.

And firefighters have continued to be very busy. On Sunday, they were called out to a fire in an area near North Abbott Avenue and Georgia Street in Hominy not once, but three separate times.

"We find ways to get the job done. We find ways to manage it," said Ross Walker with Osage Nation Wildland Fire.

Walker said that with only four full-time staff members, the work has been tough this wildfire season.

"It can get long and it can get fatigued. And you have to deal with your stress. And the only way to mitigate that is to take advantage of your down day. This sounds crazy, but if you can, take a 30-minute nap. Take a 30-minute nap," he said.

The Osage Nation firefighters work 16-hour days and then get eight hours off, so they also rely on teamwork with volunteer departments and smaller departments like Hominy, which has also had to make sure its firefighters aren't overworked.

"If we're working a long fire, you know, one that lasts a length of time, we’ll pull them off and let them work 8-12 hour shifts and rest them up. Let them eat and let them get some sleep," said Coby Surritte, a Hominy firefighter.
The firefighters say last year's wet season created more fuel to burn this year, so the fires have been bigger and stronger this year.

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