Casey O'Connor, Fire Planner
Casey O'Connor has described himself as being in the "nerd" fire role. He's a Fire Planner with the Burns Interagency Fire Zone (BIFZ) which is work that varies seasonally. You may find him behind a desk working on operational plans, attending meetings or drafting fire decision documents. You can also find him at times, locally and possibly in other areas of the U.S. where help is needed, being on a fire line in various roles as well as aiding with prescribed burning. "My duties are very diverse which makes this a challenging, yet fun job."
"There are days that can be frustrating, however it's those days when you reach someone or feel like you were part of making something better that makes this a very rewarding job. Typically, most of these good days occur on fire assignments because action has to occur and there isn’t the opportunity for the decision making process to become paralyzed by conflicting perspectives. My mindset with regards to decision making in the world of fire is “no action is an action”. Making the best decisions you can with the time and resources you have is a fundamental goal to working in the world of wildfire in my mind."
Casey's knowledge of and experience with wildfire makes him a valuable asset for the Harney County Wildfire Collaborative (HCWC). "I do enjoy working with the diverse group that constitutes the HCWC and maintain optimism that all involved are involved for the same fundamental reasons (i.e. the land and the wildlife it supports, local economies and the communities they support, the users of the land, and future generations)."
HCWC is working toward implementing a restoration and fire resilience project in the Stinkingwater Mountains, a project Casey is closely involved with the planning and ultimately the implementation. "I feel this project has a lot of potential . . . what makes this project exciting to me is that we’re looking at a landscape with almost a “fire habitat” mindset in order to establish some logical control features across this landscape for when bad, “mega” fire conditions arise. Essentially we’re looking at taking proactive actions on this fire prone landscape to create a more fire resilient landscape as well as better set fire fighters up for success and safety when wildfires do occur."
Casey has called Harney County home for some time having moved to the area as a kid from Montana and attended Crane Union High School. "After high school I worked with local fire crews in the summers and went to college at Oregon State in the off seasons. I moved over to Lakeview for about 4 years and have been back in Harney County since 2012. I enjoy this area, the people, and all the outdoor activities it has to offer. Recreating on public land with my kids is my favorite thing to do! Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, biking, you name it."