Make the McKenzie Connection!

Zeni to head Upper McKenzie Fire District

Department to host grand opening of new Blue River station on June 2nd

MCKENZIE BRIDGE: At their May 20th board meeting the Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District approved hiring a new Fire Chief. The current Chief, Christiana Rainbow Plews, retired this month and Joel Zeni stepped into her shoes.

Joel has roots in the River community - growing up on Little Deerhorn Road and graduating from Thurston High in 2009. When he was 15 he started volunteering with Lane County Search and Rescue and then joined McKenzie Fire and Rescue as a volunteer at 17. He continued to volunteer for several years before attending Oregon State University, majoring in Forest and Civil Engineering.

A Vida resident, he’s now raising his own family on the River. He has a long list of leadership and business qualifications as well as Firefighting, EMS, and Rescue experience. In 2023, he saw a need for additional volunteers for the Upper Mckenzie Rural Fire District and joined as a volunteer.

Joel is enthusiastic about serving the community as Chief of the upriver fire district and says he feels confident he “has what it takes to lead the fire department and community into the next decade or more.”

Outgoing Chief Rainbow agrees. “We could not be more excited to support him as he takes on this new responsibility and role. We all know that Joel is famous for going the extra mile to help people and in this new position he will do just that,” she said.

On June 2nd, Joel will take part in the celebration marking the grand opening of Blue River’s fire station that was lost to the Holiday Farm Fire. That event, scheduled to begin at 2 p.m., has a theme of “Stronger as we rebuild and rise from the ashes.”


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