Summer firefighter grant

Upper McKenzie receives additional funds


MCKENZIE BRIDGE: The Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Department (UMRFD) has received a summer firefighter grant for the second year in a row. The grants are offered by the Oregon State Fire Marshal (OSFM) mostly to rural fire departments to allow them to enhance on-site firefighters during the fire season and minimize response time. The goal is to catch and control small fires before they get out of control and turn into wildfires. Their motto for the grant program is “Keep Small Fires Small”. The program started in 2022, largely in response to the horrendous wildfire season of 2020 of which the Holiday Farm Fire was a part. UPRFD wants to express our sincere appreciation to OSFM for the grant program. As a volunteer department, we would not have been able to staff up for the fire season without their help.

Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Department is an all-volunteer department. That means that normally there are no firefighters sitting around the station just waiting to answer calls. Volunteers have to drop whatever they are doing (at home or at work) and head to the fire station in order to respond to a call. The summer firefighter grant allows Upper McKenzie to hire some firefighters to be at the station during peak fire times to reduce response time.

Administering the program puts a lot of extra work on the Chief and the administrative staff, none of which brings any extra compensation. Those who sign up as summer firefighters give up a lot of their summer to be at the station instead of with their families. All of this is because Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Department is deeply committed to caring for our community and our residents.

UMRFD is looking forward to this year’s summer firefighter program. In addition to being available for faster response, summer firefighters in 2022 were able to accomplish a lot for the department. As an all-volunteer department, it is sometimes difficult to keep up with all the tasks around the station. Our summer firefighters don’t just sit around waiting for calls. Last summer they performed a long list of tasks ranging from washing windows to re-striping the parking spaces In the equipment bay and painting parking spaces, including a handicap space in the parking lot. Other jobs included trimming the forest to maintain a proper defensible space around the station, updating Safety Data Sheets for all chemicals in the fire station, and compiling preliminary pre-plans for nearly 60 businesses and other venues in the district. We also did a lot of routine inventory tasks, such as documenting and labeling all the tools and supplies on each piece of apparatus and in storage at the station. All UMRFD volunteers have been trained as wildland firefighters in addition to their jobs as structural firefighters and are well qualified to fulfill the intentions of the OSFM grant. We sent a team to Oakridge last summer to assist with the wildfires there. We support the OSFM motto to “Keep Small Fires Small” and look forward to doing our part this summer.


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