Columbia River Fire and Rescue
ORS 478.260 (2) The board, with advice and counsel of the fire chief, shall select the location of the fire house or houses or headquarters of the fire department of the district. Such sites shall be chosen with a view to the best service to the residents and properties of the whole district.
In 1974 the Fire District realized that in order to protect their residents with adequate fire protection and emergency services in the Deer Island area and the fairground area and to keep fire policies at a reasonable and affordable cost to the residents in these areas came to the voters with a $350,000 bond in order to build two substations, equipment and adequate personal.
In 1974 voters approved a bond measure allowing the construction of two sub-stations and the purchase of two engines and two water tenders. On July 1, 1975 the St Helens RFD hired twelve new fire fighters to staff the new sub-stations and immediately doubled the number of fire department personal to three chiefs, three captains, six lieutenants and eighteen fire fighters. July 28, 1975 marked the first day the sub-stations were open and ready for business.
The substations worked fine --- until 2000-2001 when CRFR merged with Rainier. With that merger the Deer Island substation was robbed of their equipment and personnel leaving the residents at the Deer Island area critically unprotected, doubling and tripling insurance rates. This has left the insurance rates for some residents so high they cannot afford fire insurance. These people are left with the chance of not being able to rebuild if a fire destroys their homes. It puts them in harm's way when it is not necessary.
With your decision to close Deer Island substation you are effectively saying that the previous fire board members were remiss in their appreciation for the need of adequate fire protection for the Deer island area and in keeping the insurance policies at an affordable rate for the residents.
After all, everyone pays approximately $2.98 cents per thousand assessed value into the fire district with the chance of the district being able to increase the value by 3% yearly because of MEASURE 50. Does this board realize that all residents in the district pay to have adequate and equal services?
The CRFR board knows that Deer Island residents have been paying into this district for FIFTEEN YEARS; without coverage ---that Deer Island residents have been paying into this district the same amount of dollars as those adequately protected; the CRFR knows Deer Island residents have received inferior protection and been burdened with unaffordable fire policy rates. Yet you ask us to be patient - that you are working on the problem. Yes, you have finally purchased a replacement engine. It took fifteen years.
I don't believe that Deer Island is being treated the same as you treat the St. Helens area and this is unacceptable. Equal payment to the district equals equal coverage. You will explain that there are not enough calls coming from Deer Island Let me say the population in the Deer Island area has increased quite a bit since 1974 and if the fire department felt that Deer Island was under served in 1974, then Deer Island has been grossly under served since approximately 2001 at the decision of the Fire Chief and board at that time and the Fire Chief and board at this time.
I would like an explanation from the board as where six of these twelve fire fighters went. As they were hired exclusively for the substations and since you continue to man a substation at the fairgrounds it seems you have deliberately left the Deer Island area virtually unprotected with no manned substation and with an inadequate response time from the St. Helens station. The time to travel the distance is relevant to this situation of whether CRFR arrives in time to save a home or arrives to water down the charred remains of a Deer Island resident's home.
It makes no sense to maintain the fairgrounds substation where the response time is fast because of the distance and because of the virtually flat road grade. This area can be reached in an acceptable amount of time from the main fire station.
The Time to drive obeying the speed limit from 105 S 12th St. to Bachelor Flat Road:
• 7 minutes 2.4 miles via US 30 E and Gable Rd.
• 7 minutes 2.7 miles via Old Portland Rd and Gable
• 8 minutes 2.8 miles Via Columbia Blvd.
Of course, as CRFR emergency vehicles are not limited to speed limits and can make this distance much more quickly.
Based on information provided by CRFR, the CRFR has 33 fire fighters. I
was told that the number of personnel to man the Deer Island station is
six. I accept that number - but then if Deer Island requires six fire
fighters, why does the Rainier station require only four. That leaves twenty three fire fighters to be divided between the
fairgrounds station and the main fire house. With a number of six at the
fairgrounds that leaves seventeen firefighters.
Which then leaves seventeen fire fighters to be housed from the main
station. I understand we could reduce the seventeen number by a couple
in case of vacations or sickness to fill in. With the CRFR numbers I
would say that all the stations have enough manpower to be fully manned
In other words with six men per station that is only eighteen fire
fighters. That leaves a solid fifteen fire fighters to maintain the
Now we all know that CRFR often has so many med calls that you take fire
fighters from the main fire house and the fairgrounds substation to do
transports - at times leaving the district without any firefighters to
respond to fire calls - exhausting the man power from the main fire
house and the fairgrounds substation.
That brings me to another question to the board:
If you do not have the adequate man power to cover the initial
responsibilities of CRFR, such as keeping the people protected with
adequate fire coverage and adequate response time for all people in the
district, why do you continue to offer fire med policies to more people?
You are not adequately serving fire protection duties for Deer Island
and the rest of the district because all the fire fighters are on
>From the main fire station located at 105 S 12th St. St Helens to the
Deer Island Substation:
12 minutes - 7.4 miles Via US Hwy. 30 West
Wheras the CRFR Chief Jay Tappan in a conversation with me a few months ago
stated that the response time from the main station to the Deer Island
station was about 15 minutes.
The grade of Canaan Rd. is fairly steep, starting at a level point at
the intersection of US 30 and Canaan Road. The grade increases gradually
until Merrill Creek Road which is approximately .06 of a mile. From
Merrill Creek Road the distance is about .04 of a mile where the grade
increases quickly to a 5% incline to the new guard rails at mail box
33988. From there the incline is somewhat steeper for approximately .03
of a mile to the Deer Island substation which is sited on the top of the
grade on the flats. Staying fairly flat for a couple of miles then has a sharp incline and then a gradual but long steep climb until reaching Pinkney Rd. Canaan Road's steep hill and short curves slows the
response time for a loaded fire truck/engine dramatically.
While this board decides on pay increases for administration, paying out
enormous amounts of funds on lawsuits there is no discussion on moving
personel from town to man the Deer Island station. The CRFR
deliberately closed Deer Island with no regard for these people in the
district, knowing full well the area would be ineffectively covered and
has been for 15 years.
You keep telling the public to be patient, "we have been working on the
problem - we now have an engine - again after 15 years - we are trying
to get volunteer personal - again after 15 years -, just wait if we get
this all together and the engine leaves the driveway that will count on
the ISO rating reduction -again after 15 years, it will take time for
the ISO rating to drop but just be patient."
In my surmise of this situation I believe that the residents in the
Deer Island area have been more than patient and deserve an apology from
the CRFR and immediate action from the board to move personel to man
Deer island substation.
If, in fact, the CRFR cared for the residents of the Deer Island area we
would not be addressing this issue, because there would not be an issue
- because all residents of the district would have the adequate and
equal coverage for which they have paid .
Instead of focusing most all the resources on one area, St. Helens and
the fairground substation, (Rainier is a given and does not come into
this issue) and promoting more fire med services which CRFR cannot
adequately handle now, you need to correct the poor decision by the CRFR
to close the Deer Island substation. Remember, all people in the
district pay an equal amount for CRFR services and deserve equal
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