by Angelina Dixson and KVAL.com Staff
Wednesday, November 11th 2020
LANE COUNTY, Ore. — A lack of staff and volunteers may be the issue for the future of our rural fire stations in Lane County. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people who live in rural areas, and to protect them, fire agencies may need to bridge the gap. “So, we had to change our staffing model,” said Ryan Martin, President of the Pleasant Hill Fire and Rescue Board.
And that’s the answer in a nutshell to lack of fire personnel since there’s a nationwide trend for decreasing resident volunteers and respond from home volunteers. “And so with that, we’ve decreased from 15-20 respond from home volunteers about 5 years ago. We currently have 3 out of the pleasant hill station, we have 3 out of the Jasper station and we have 2 out of the Goshen station.”
Highway 58’s Pleasant Hill station is relatively small and was made in the 60’s Martin says. It does not have the room to house fire personnel. So, in order to cut down on response times, there are respond from home volunteers who live near the three main areas. “You can have an average response time to anywhere from 15 to 20 min, depending on availability. Our hope with the annexation we pushed was that we’d be able to replace the existing fire station. And by adding the resident’s quarters, we’d be able to cut our response times down depending on where you live within the district,” said Martin.
But the annexation was not passed in pleasant hill it was passed in Goshen. He says in the end, it’ll come back to voters and more money will be asked to replace aging equipment and update the facility with resident quarters, and therefore, decreasing response times. Martin says they are the 6th busiest fire agency within Lane County.