Local politics, the county, and the world, as viewed by Tammy Maygra
Tammy's views are her own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Bill Eagle, his pastor, Tammy's neighbors, Earl Fisher, Betsy Johnson, Joe Corsiglia, President Obama, Tony Hyde, Pat Robertson, Debi Corsiglia's dog, or Claudia Eagle's Cats. This Tammy's Take (with the exception of this disclaimer) is not paid for or written by, or even reviewed by anyone but Tammy and she refuses to be bullied by anyone.

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This could be your home because all the firefighters are on medical runs.
CRFR is doing just that. Rolling the dice with your home and your safety.

Our Fire District
By Tammy Maygra

In 1974 the CRFR aka St. Helens Rural Fire District came to voters in the district with a proposal. The proposal called for the construction of two fire sub-stations along with the equipment for those two stations which would be financed with a $340,000 bond. The board decided on a 15 year repayment schedule for the bonds. The voters approved the proposal. The stations would be constructed, one near the fairgrounds and the other one up on top of the hill on Cannan Rd. at Deer Island.

By construction of the two sub-stations, equipping and operation of the sub-stations the residents of the rural areas would receive fire insurance savings. Without the sub-stations the resident's fire insurance would be extremely high because the insurance carriers would raise the ISO (Insurance Services Office of Oregon) ratings. The ratings are founded by the distance a property owner lives from a fire station or manned sub-station.

Five miles is the distance ISO requires for adequate fire protection response times. Along with ability of the fire truck to not pump less than twenty minutes at two hundred gallons per minute which is the capacity to pump four thousand gallons in that given time. Tankers are required to not be any farther than eight road miles from any qualifying stations.

The bond also funded the furnishing, radio and other fire house equipment plus the purchase of a new triple combination pumper and three used tankers to meet water hauling requirements. After the sub-stations were built the fire district would ask for a re-rating on the ISO number which would reduce fire insurance costs for the residents.

Another reason the sub-station was needed at Deer Island is because the Canaan Rd. hill is so long and steep which dramatically reduces the response time for personal to respond to a fire call in that area along with the out laying areas of the district. The Cannan Rd. sub-station would also provide service down the hill including Hwy 30. Increasing response time there as well.

Then in 2001 CRFR decided that they wanted to combine Rainiers services into CRFR. When that decision was made the Deer Island's sub-station was relieved of its bond funded equipment, which went to Rainier. They also lost their trained fire fighters which resulted in the closing of the sub-station. The outcome was a higher ISO rating--- resulting in two and a half times to quadrupled fire insurance costs for the Deer Island folks. Many people cannot afford their insurance premiums and now they have no coverage.

The fire board and Chief Dunkel knew when they made the decision to close the Deer Island station in 2001 that all the residents would experience a drastic increase in their fire insurance premiums. CRFR suggests a volunteer manned station. The ISO does not recognize a volunteer program and insurance rates will remain as they are unless the crew is a CRFR trained force. The people in Deer Island are paying the same tax rate for fire protection but receiving none. Unlike others in the CRFR district who are paying the same tax rate but receiving fire protection.

When does the CFRF become more involved in medical transports than being a fire department? Maybe the CRFR should devote their time as a fire department by taking care of fire related issues such as equipping and manning the sub-station at Deer Island as they had promised in the contracted bond measure with the taxpayers of the district. Why is CRFR selling more Fire Med contracts if they do not have the personal to fulfill their obligations? If the CRFR has too many medical calls to handle maybe it's time to contract out to an ambulance service, so everyone has the protection which they are paying for.

The current fire board when asked about the Deer Island sub-station obligation responded simply that was before our time. I am not satisfied with that answer. When sitting on a board it is your duty to know what obligations the entity has. Your job is to protect the citizens and you are failing your duties.

The board gave no direct answer to when or if they are considering re-opening the Deer Island station. My question to the board was--- why are the residents at Deer Island paying into CRFR when we get no service? the boards response to the question was the same as they answer to almost every question ask to them and that was a blank stare with no comment.

The re-opening of the Deer island sub-station could be fixed quite easily. The district has the correct equipment and personal. Right now Rainier has four firemen which two of those could be re-assigned to the Deer Island station then it could be manned 24/7. The result would be a low ISO rating reducing fire insurance premiums back to a fair rate which folks could afford.

The fire department would argue they need these four men in Rainier in case there is a fire. Right now the sub-station at the fairgrounds has two fire fighters which go on medical calls leaving the fire house empty. In fact the St. Helens fire department at times goes on so many medical calls that the entire St. Helens area is often completely unprotected. This means if there happened to be a fire ---the entire structure would burn to the ground because all the fire fighters are on medical calls. With a budget of over $11 million the CRFR is rolling the dice when it comes to protecting the residents. This practice is unacceptable.


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