This page will keep you up to date on what's going on with the District, Volunteers and Constituents.
|Providing fire protection on a budget|
|By Jim Cornelius 4/16/2013
Keeping Sisters Country properties safe from fire requires skill, training and
dedication. When it's done on a tight budget, it also requires creativity.
Rural Fire Protection District, with two paid staff members and 19 volunteers, has the lowest tax rate of any district in
Central Oregon, at $1.09 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The larger and more complex Sisters RFPD operates on $2.73 per
That gives the department about $330,000 per year in budget. The Cloverdale RFPD board
of directors has held the line on that tax rate and budget, not wanting to increase the burden on local residents during
tough economic times. That means that the board and Fire Chief Thad Olsen have to find extremely cost-efficient ways to
deliver fire protection and keep 19 volunteer firefighters and medics safe as they respond to calls.
board has chosen not to go to the voters to ask them (for more)," Olsen said. "We try to live within our means.
To do that, we have to be creative."
An example of creativity is found in the way the fire district obtained
pumpers to replace aging units that Olsen noted "were very unreliable and unsafe."
There was no way
to purchase two new engines at a price tag of $350,000. But the district searched out a pair owned by Tualatin Valley Fire
"They had two engines that were slightly older, but they had excellent maintenance records on
them," Olsen said. "We were able to purchase those two trucks for $10,000 total."
The trucks have
served the district well, but they are now showing their age and use.
"They're still serviceable,"
Olsen reported. "Maintenance issues are starting to come up. We're looking at options to replace them, but funding
is an issue for us."
There have been other bargain purchases of quality equipment to improve performance
and safety without breaking the bank.
Two new quick-response vehicles/brush trucks went into service during the
summer of 2012. The new trucks are built on 2012 Ford F550 extended-cab four-wheel-drive chassis with a gross weight rating
of 19,550 pounds. The trucks are designed to handle a variety of emergency calls, from motor vehicle wrecks to brush fires
to medical emergencies.
The district is also looking to shift its presence to the south end of the district,
where 70 percent of calls originate. The problem is that there is only a small garage at Station #2 at the Cloverdale
Road/Highway 20 intersection.
Building a new station there would cost $1.5 million -out of the question for the
The district decided to build a separate building to house offices and sleeping quarters (which will
allow the district to attract much-needed students and out-of-district volunteers). Olsen got in touch with the Treasure
Valley Community College Building Technologies department and the district is crafting an intergovernmental agreement that
will get the building up for the cost of materials - and the educational value for the college.
by the end of the summer we'll be in a new building," Olsen said.
The cost will be a fraction of the
price of a new station, and improve response time to that end of the district.
Part of the cost of fire protection
is the price paid by homeowners for fire insurance - a price determined by ISO rating. Cloverdale has trained
hard to attain the lowest rating possible.
The Insurance Services Office is the entity that rates fire departments
throughout the U.S. On a scale of 10, with 1 being the best rating, Cloverdale received a 6 for all homes
in the fire district and a 3 for homes within 1,000 feet of a fire hydrant, which includes all of Aspen Lakes, a portion
of Panoramic View Estates, and the homes near the end of Ponderosa Cascade.
According to district officials, these
ratings are almost unheard of in a rural fire district and are among the lowest in Central Oregon.
of low tax rates and a good insurance rating means that residents of the Cloverdale district are getting
a lot of value out of their fire department.
|4/2/2013 1:05:00 PM|
Cloverdale firefighter set
By Jim Cornelius
|Look for John Thomas on the river, fly rod in hand. photo by Jim Cornelius|
For the past 18 years, Deputy Chief John Thomas has been training volunteers
for the Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District. It's an important job; the district only has two paid staff members
- to serve the community, the district relies on volunteers (see related story, page 6).
Thomas served in the
Coast Guard during the Vietnam War and had 25 years in the restaurant business before coming to Sisters. He volunteered
with Cloverdale while managing Lutton's Ace Hardware for eight years. When the position of deputy chief and training
officer came up, Thomas became a full-time firefighter.
"In all the things I've done, this is the most
fulfilling part of my career," he said.
Under Thomas' program, Cloverdale has added qualified volunteer
EMTs and kept a level of training and readiness that helps the district maintain low insurance ratings for a rural, mostly
Two elements of the work give Thomas particular satisfaction. One is the relationships
he's built in the community through serving its residents, sometimes in the worst of circumstances. The other is seeing
volunteers fulfill dreams of being firefighters and progressing in their skills and abilities.
The deputy chief
admires the volunteers.
"They sign on and they make a commitment to respond," he said. "It doesn't
make a difference what day of the week or day or night, if they're available, they're going to respond."
Thomas acknowledges that he's going to miss the work. He won't be sitting on the couch, though. An avid
fisherman, he plans to spend a lot more time on the rivers of Central Oregon, tempting fish to strike his hand-tied flies.
He also enjoys backpacking with his wife, Ann. He's also started restoring a '57 Chevy pickup.
Thad Olson told The Nugget that training duties will be taken on by firefighter and EMT Michael Valoppi. Cloverdale is working
to coordinate its training program with that of the nearby Sisters fire department, with whom the district has a mutual-aid
Volunteers are always welcome. It's a big commitment, requiring 150 hours of training before a
firefighter is ready to respond to a blaze, but the satisfaction of the work is considerable.
Thomas knows that
satisfaction well. He says, simply, "I am proud to be a firefighter."
|3/26/2013 12:32:00 PM|
Crash sends man to
|A Portland man crashed his Porsche into several trees along Highway 126 late Monday afternoon. photo by Gary Miller|
|The driver was transported to the hospital via Life Flight, suffering serious injuries. Speed was believed
to be a factor in the wreck.photo by Gary Miller|
A Porsche traveling at a high rate
of speed careened off Highway 126 Monday evening and crashed into roadside trees.
According to sheriff's office
reports, the driver, 58-year-old Grant Prentice of Portland, was seriously injured and transported via Life Flight air ambulance
to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend.
The sheriff's office reports that Prentice was driving westbound in
a blue 200 Porsche Carrera and narrowly missed a westbound cyclist. Hitting the curve near Buckhorn Lane, the vehicle left
the roadway on the westbound shoulder. The vehicle hit the cinders and continued off road until it struck two pine trees.
The vehicle then struck a third pine tree with the driver's side of the vehicle. The pine tree broke into pieces and
the vehicle came to rest facing south on the north side of the highway.
Life Flight landed at nearby Aspen Lakes
to transport the driver to the hospital.
The sheriff's office notes that the investigation is continuing.
Any witnesses to this crash are encouraged to contact the Sheriff's Office at 541-693-6911.
The Oregon State
Police and the Oregon Department of Transportation assisted at the scene of the crash.
Brush fire a sign of the season
|A Cloverdale firefighter helps knock down the first brush fire of the season. photo
The Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District responded to the first brush fire of the
year on Thursday, March 14.
A field fire grew out of control in the 18000 block of Highway 126. Although attended,
the reported 10-mph winds in the afternoon quickly blew the fire out of control. The temperature was 62 degrees at the time.
Smoke temporarily obscured traffic on Highway 126 as firefighters quickly controlled the blaze. Cloverdale firefighters
responded with two brush trucks, one water-tender, and six firefighters. The district was assisted by the Oregon Department
of Forestry and Deschutes County Sheriff's Office.
The fire burned about two acres of grass, several fence
posts, and was stopped just before it crossed onto a neighbor's field, which contained a wooden storage shed.
Thad Olsen, chief of Cloverdale Fire District, reminds residents that no burning is allowed during periods of high winds,
and persons conducting burns should do so during the morning hours, when humidity is high, and the normal afternoon breeze
has not kicked up.
"Winds at the time were reported by the National Weather Service as being 10 miles per
hour," Olsen reported. "Although this does not sound high, it was enough to blow this fire out of control, and
nearly onto a neighboring property. Although it is still very early in the year, weather conditions have been such that
light flashy fuels, such as grasses, can be dry and easily ignitable."
Senate Bill 360 makes property owners
responsible for any fire which escapes from their property. Chief Olsen reminds everyone to be especially cautious during
this time of year when contemplating burning, whether it is a burn barrel or a field.
(Click Story title for Video)
NewsChannel 21's Alicia Inns was on scene as fire crews
from across region were called in amid string of suspicious, possible arson fires in downtown Bend.
BEND, Ore. -
Firefighters from across Central Oregon rushed to downtown Bend early Wednesday morning to help battle
a string of at least five apparent arson fires that hit two churches, two homes and a garage. At least one home was reported
fully engulfed, while police tracked footprints in the snow in a hunt for suspects.
string of incidents apparently began shortly after 2 a.m., as police were responding to a possibly unrelated reported disturbance
involving several people near the M&J Tavern on Greenwood Avenue.
soon spotted coming from the Trinity Episcopal Church at 469 NW Wall Street, on the other (south) end of downtown.
Fire crews arrived to find smoke billowing from an open door at the church and sparks coming from
the roof of the roof of that building and the church's second, adjacent building, initial reports monitored by KBND indicated.
Police called to the scene also said rocks apparently had been thrown through the church's windows.
As police and fire units arrived, another report came in of a fire at the nearby Grace Bible Church
(formerly First Lutheran Church) at 500 NW Wall Street.
A short time later, dispatchers
received a report of a home engulfed in flames on Broadway Street. As police made sure it had been evacuated, a string of
fires broke out in the alley near the Episcopal Church, apparently debris and trash cans set ablaze.
A garage fire was reported in that alley, with flames spreading to the adjacent house.
Then came a report of a fire at a home on Jefferson Place, where police reportedly used fire extinguishers
to douse that blaze. Another fire was reported at a home on St. Helens Place.
officials soon sounded the alarm for a Central Oregon structural protection task force, reporting a total of five structure
fires at that time.
Fire crews from as far away as La Pine and Redmond were called
in, as well as others from the Sisters, Cloverdale, Black Butte Ranch and Sunriver fire departments, both to relieve Bend
crews and also help staff fire stations.
New snowfall also challenged the called-in
fire crews. A Sisters fire captain said they had to drive close to 20 mph at times for safety reasons.
There were no reports of injuries.
Power and Cascade Natural Gas crews were called in to help get lines shut off in the area, and the Red Cross was called in
to assist affected residents.
Numerous streets in the south end of downtown Bend
and the adjacent Old Town neighborhood were closed for the fire cleanup and investigation.
Medina, deputy chief of fire prevention, said roads were blocked off heading into the morning commute in an area from Louisiana
Avenue on the north to Georgia Avenue on the south and to Broadway Street to the west.
asked that anyone with information that could help in the investigation contact Bend police through Deschutes County dispatchers
at (541) 693-6911.
Medina told KBND five structures had been involved, including
the two churches, with extensive damage to Trinity Episcopal Church and damage to the adjacent kitchen/dining hall.
Trinity Episcopal, a Gothic-style church built in 1929, is listed on the National Register of Historic
We'll have more details as they become available, and a full report
on NewsChannel 21 at Sunrise.
Copyright 2013 KTVZ. All rights reserved. This
material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed
Sisters-Camp Sherman Fire District hosts multi- fire
agency burn to learn. 2-9-2012
Cloverdale Fire District, along with Black Butte and Sisters
Camp Sherman fire districts, participated in a "burn to learn" training opportunity hosted by the Sisters Camp Sherman
Fire District. 55 firefighters had taken part in this multi-level training exercise to hone their skills in fire behavior
knowledge and fire suppression response. Our thanks goes out to Doug Myers, interim Training Chief, and Fire Chief Roger Johnson
for inviting us to the well planned and executed event.
(Click Here for Pictures)
12/18/2012 2:30:00 PM
Fire claims lives of four dogs
A fire at a dog kennel
on Gist Road at 1:30 a.m. Monday, December 17, took the lives of four AKC registered Maltese dogs.
According to Deputy Chief John Thomas of the Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District, the cause of the fire was likely
Units from Cloverdale hit the scene quickly, backed up by an engine from Sisters,
and were able to keep the fire from doing even more damage. One of five kennels was destroyed.
were able to extinguish it very quickly and prevent the high winds from pushing it into any other exposures, like the house
it (the kennel) was attached to," Thomas said.
10/30/2012 12:26:00 PM
Cloverdale fire district earns new rating
|The Cloverdale fire district is proud of their work to attain a better ISO
rating. photo provided|
a year-and-a-half of waiting, the results are in. The Insurance Services Office (ISO) has released its newest rating for the
Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District (CRFPD).
ISO is the entity that rates fire departments throughout
the U.S. and directly influences homeowners' fire insurance rates.
On a scale of 10, with 1 being the best
rating, Cloverdale received a 6 for all homes in the fire district and a 3 for homes within 1,000 feet of
a fire hydrant, which includes all of Aspen Lakes, a portion of Panoramic View Estates, and the homes near the end of Ponderosa
According to district officials, these ratings are almost unheard of in a rural fire district and are
among the lowest in Central Oregon. According to ISO, only 3.4 percent of fire departments nationwide have attained an ISO
rating of 3 or better and only 39 percent have attained a rating of 6 or better.
ISO rates fire districts in
three categories and assigns points. Ten percent of the score is based on how well alarms are dispatched and received by the
County 911 Center. Fifty percent of the score is based on a fire department's station distribution, personnel, equipment,
and training. Forty percent of the overall score focuses on water delivery.
The volunteers - as well as their
equipment, training, and water supply - are crucial to the rating.
"Without a dedicated group of volunteers,
the district would not be where it's at today," said Fire Chief Thad Olsen. "We have a great group of men and
women who donate their time to training in order to provide the district with the great service we have. The board of directors
has been very supportive and has provided for some much-needed equipment upgrades. The ISO rating is a testament to everyone's
CRFPD Board President Keith Cyrus seconded Olsen's praise and credits Chief Olsen and the
District's volunteers with this very favorable rating.
"Our low tax rate combined with a great ISO rating
couldn't be achieved without the hard work and dedication of Chief Olsen, Deputy Chief (Jon) Thomas, and all of the great
volunteers. These men and women volunteer hundreds of hours of their time and expertise to providing excellent fire and medical
service to the community."
Water supply is a key aspect of the rating, and Chief Olsen credits the Aspen
Lakes water system with helping the district achieve these ratings. Prior to the development of Aspen Lakes, the district
had maintained an ISO rating of a class 8.
When Aspen Lakes was developed, the developers installed fire hydrants
and a high-volume water supply system, as well as an extra hydrant at the intersection of Highway 126 and Camp Polk Road for
the benefit of the fire district and its patrons. In addition, they also helped the fire district install a hydrant in the
Sun Mountain water system at the end of Ponderosa Cascade in order to serve the water supply needs in the south end of the
district. Having a fire hydrant at those locations allows the district to fill its water tenders rapidly and reduce turnaround
time during fires.
With the new hydrant fill sites, the fire district was then able to challenge its ISO classification
for the first time and, in 1998, it improved its rating from ISO class 8 to class 6. At that time, Aspen Lakes was not rated
separately. Instead, its rating numbers were averaged into the district's non-hydranted areas in order to improve the
overall district ISO score.
This time, due to a number of improved capabilities of the fire district, the Aspen
Lakes community and a portion of the Ponderosa Cascade area were scored separately and received an ISO class 3, while the
rest of the district was able to maintain its class 6 rating in spite of a more stringent classification process.
In recent years, Cloverdale has upgraded its three water tenders, which can be filled rapidly and better
deliver the water necessary to fight fires anywhere in the district that does not have hydrants.
To the taxpayers
in Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District, this means a potential savings in fire insurance premiums that
could more than offset the property tax that they pay for fire protection, district officials note.
With a typical
coverage plan, a home that is insured for $500,000 would pay approximately $2,500 if it were outside the fire district. If
it were in CRFPD's boundaries, it would pay $1,800, and if it were within 1,000 feet of a hydrant, it would pay $1,200.
The savings potential with the new ISO ratings can be significant. Chief Olsen advises homeowners to check with
their insurance company to ensure they are getting the best rate possible.
Olsen added, "The district is
always looking for dedicated volunteers to be part of our organization. If you reside in Cloverdale Rural
Fire Protection District and are interested in serving the public, please contact us."
Olsen can be reached
|10/30/2012 12:09:00 PM|
investigators seek cause of fire
ravaged a vacation home east of Sisters last Friday. Investigators are seeking information. photo
by Gary Miller|
An Oregon State Police (OSP) Arson Section detective is continuing the investigation
into Friday night's suspicious fire southeast of Sisters that extensively damaged a vacation home.
On October 26, at approximately 7:08 p.m., firefighters from Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District and Sisters-Camp
Sherman Rural Fire Protection District responded to a reported fire at 17850 Warrin Rd.
vacation home was ablaze. The fire extensively damaged the home, which was not occupied at the time, and caused additional
damage to a detached garage. Estimated total damage is not available.
Fire investigators from
the Oregon State Fire Marshal's Office and OSP Arson Section are involved in the investigation to determine the cause.
The Deschutes County Sheriff's Office also responded to the scene.
with information that may help in this investigation is asked to call the OSP Arson Tip Line at 800-452-7888. Detective Andrea
Vaughn is the lead OSP investigator.
|9/9/2012 11:46:00 AM|
Fire erupts near Pole Creek
Trailhead - updated at 2:25 pm
|Photo taken from Cloverdale Road. photo by Kiki Dolson|
|View from Holmes Road. photo by Jon Renner|
PRE-evacuation notices have been
issued for Crossroads and homes in the Forest Road 16 area. Forest Road 15 and Forest Road 16 are closed. Three Creeks campground
is being evacuated. Hwy. 242, McKenzie is being closed at the Trout Creek intersection west of Sisters. Highway 20 over the
Santiam Pass remains open.
A fast-developing fire is burning southwest of Sisters in the vicinity of the Pole Creek
Trailhead. A large smoke plume is visible from downtown Sisters. According to Central Oregon Interagency Dispatch, there
are people in the wilderness that might be affected by the fire, which, dispatchers say, "is growing rapidly."
The immediate emphasis for fire personnel is to contact hikers and get them to a safe place. Smoke jumpers were unable to
access the fire due to windy conditions. Ground crews are responding. A Type III fire management team is in place and a Type
II team is on order. Weather forecast call for windy condtions. There are no campground or residential evacuations ordered
at this time. More details as they become available.
Next Preparedness Fair will be September 15, 2012
picture above for more information.
8/21/2012 1:05:00 PM
Fire district adds new brush trucks
|New brush trucks add to the capabilities of the Cloverdale RFPD. photo
Two new quick-response vehicles/brush trucks are in service at Cloverdale Rural
Fire Protection District.
The new trucks are built on 2012 Ford F550 extended-cab four-wheel-drive chassis with
a gross weight rating of 19,550 pounds. The trucks are designed to handle a variety of emergency calls, from motor vehicle
wrecks to brush fires to medical emergencies.
Fire Chief Thad Olsen notes that the trucks offer a significant
boost to firefighter safety, thanks to their anti-lock braking systems.
The trucks replace aging rigs and surpass
their capabilities. They have increased water tank capacity at 350 gallons and 130-gallon-per-minute pumps. They also feature
Class A foam, self-contained breathing apparatus, emergency medical equipment, saws and scene lighting.
can add equipment like hydraulic rescue equipment in the future without exceeding the vehicles' weight capacity.
The trucks were designed by a committee of volunteers and staff, with help from Robberson Ford of Bend, Cascade Fire Equipment
of Medford and Highway Products of White City. The total cost of the rigs was under $160,000, benefitting from using Oregon
vendors. The department received bids of over $122,000 per truck from fire truck manufacturers.
They were paid
for out of basic property taxes, with no bond or levy assessment. Cloverdale RFPD residents pay $1.09 per $1,000 of assessed
property value for fire protection services.
Cloverdale Fire adds two new response vehicles
to its aging fleet.
Fire District recently added two new first response vehicles to its fleet. Both are replacing older, under powered and smaller
first response rigs. They carry more water, hose and people. The new lighting and siren systems allow our entering the highway
more safely from both of our stations. Allowing us to respond to emergency situations, not only quicker, but safer as
One of the new twins at Cloverdale Fire District.
Both 641 and 642 are equipped with Emergency Medical Aid Response and the ability to handle numerous
|7/24/2012 12:37:00 PM|
Firefighters get thermal
By Jim Cornelius
|Volunteers raised funds for a second thermal imaging camera for the Cloverdale fire district. photo by Jerry Baldock|
The house is filled with smoke. It's almost impossible to see more than
three feet in front of the respirator mask that covers your face. But you have to go in and find someone who is trying to
crawl out or perhaps has been overcome by fumes.
Fortunately, you have the right tool for the job.
that scenario plays out in the Cloverdale fire district east of Sisters, firefighters and those they serve can thank the
fundraising efforts by volunteer firefighters for a thermal imaging camera that will make firefighting efforts more efficient
- and could save lives.
The Cloverdale Volunteer Firefighters Association presented the district with its
second thermal imaging camera at a board of directors meeting last week. According to Association President Clinton Weaver,
the district now has a camera at each of the district's two stations, which means that it will be on-scene quickly at
The camera "sees" heat, Weaver explained. That means firefighters can locate victims in a dark
and smoke-choked room by their body heat. They can also detect sources of fire that may not be visible to the naked eye
- and also easily determine where the fire isn't.
In a structure fire, firefighters must be assured that
there is no fire in the walls. The time-honored way of doing that is simply cutting into the walls, which can make damage
from a fire much more extensive. The camera eliminates the need for intrusive action. It can "see" through the
sheetrock, and firefighters can determine whether or not there's fire.
"If there's not fire behind
the sheetrock, we don't have to tear the house apart," Weaver said.
The cameras cost $10,000 to $12,000
new, Weaver told The Nugget. The district was able to get a line on a demonstration model for $6,000. The volunteers raised
the funds to make the purchase through a unique fundraiser. They purchased a commemorative Winchester model 1894 .30-30,
which they sold at raffle during the Sisters Rodeo. They quickly sold out 1,500 tickets.
"We're very thankful to the community, because they bought the
raffle tickets up before the Saturday evening show," Weaver said.
The district was also assisted by a corporate
donation from rural insurer Country Financial, arranged by Ray Austin of Redmond.
The Winners of the Cloverdale Fire Raffle at
this years Sisters Rodeo:
Brandon Stayles of Oregon
won the rifle. and
Bill Frith of Oregon won the knife/cutting
Thank you to all who purchased a ticket supporting
our Volunteer Fire Fighters Association!
2/28/2012 1:24:00 PM
Wind storm drops trees, sparks fire
|A downed power line sparked a blaze that consumed an outbuilding. photo by Donald Wilt|
The wind that swept through Sisters Country overnight on
Tuesday and Wednesday last week broke trees and sparked a fire that consumed a garage building in Camp Sherman.
Heavy gusts knocked down trees in Sisters neighborhoods and put one down on Highway 20 near Black Butte. Responding Oregon
State Police troopers reported hearing trees crashing in the forest all around.
High winds caused a limb to fall
across a power line in Camp Sherman. The line split apart and began arcing as it fell onto a woodshed/garage owned by Brian
Metke at 26311 S.W. Metke Ln.
"The building and all contents were declared a total loss, but the adjacent
cabin, pump house and vintage pickup, a 1966 Dodge Power Wagon, were spared thanks to a quick response from firefighters
from Sisters-Camp Sherman, Black Butte Ranch, and Cloverdale Fire Departments," reported neighbor Don Wilt. "The
building was considered a local landmark as it was built by the late, legendary Camp Sherman log cabin builder Luther Metke
and his grandson, Brian, in about 1975. The accident knocked out power to several residents in the area but was restored
by Central Electric Power (Cooperative) within a few hours. Lost in the fire were a number of antiques, including an organ."
No one was injured in any of the wind-related incidents.
Sunday October 16,2011
Cloverdale Fire District Fire Fighters Memorial
Law enforcement officials believe a small fire near Sisters on Friday was human-caused.
According to Deschutes County Sheriff's Office reports, at about 3:30 p.m. on Friday deputies responded to
the 69400 block of Hinkle Butte Drive regarding a brush fire. Upon arrival, deputies noted a fire approximately one acre in
size, burning slowly in an open field void of trees or structures. Sisters and Cloverdale firefighters were able to control
the fire quickly. No structures were immediately threatened.
(Click the picture above to read the full story
(Click the link to read the story & watch the video.)
Good Samaritans Step Up, Fight Cloverdale Fire
Wind-Fanned Blaze Could Have
Spread Far, Fast
POSTED: 10:19 pm PDT
July 6, 2011 / UPDATED: 11:34 pm PDT July 6, 2011
3/15/2011 1:02:00 PM
firefighters take on test
By Jim Cornelius
|Cloverdale firefighters conducted testing that will determine insurance ratings for the rural district. photo by Gary Miller|
|Speedy deployment of water is a key element of tests the Cloverdale fire department faced last weekend. photo by Gary Miller|
For a rural fire district, one number looms large. That's the ISO rating
- the rating number by which the insurance industry measures fire risk. The amount the district's resident pay
for fire insurance depends on getting the best number possible.
Last weekend, the Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection
District faced a test that will determine whether they can hold onto their ISO 6 rating (ISO 1 being best; ISO 10 being
Maintaining a strong ISO rating is getting tougher and tougher out in the country, according to Fire
Chief Thad Olson. In recent years, wildfires in rural areas across the United States have brought structure loss and changed
the way the insurance industry calculates risk. That poses a big challenge for rural district's like Cloverdale, where
there are almost no fire hydrants and reserve equipment is not in the budget.
Actual performance of the fire
department is not the major part of a district's score. If it was, the Cloverdale district would be sitting pretty.
"In the past year and a half, we've had three house fires - and we've saved everything," Olson said.
Instead, the score is heavily based on infrastructure, equipment and staffing - water flows, hydrants, reserve equipment,
speed and efficiency of dispatch and proportion of at-station paid staff.
All of those considerations stack the
deck against the district, no matter how good its firefighters - mostly volunteers - are at fighting fire.
a tax rate of $1.09 per $1,000, the lowest for any district in the county, Cloverdale doesn't collect enough to fund
major equipment purchases, although the district did upgrade trucks through a loan.
And the district doesn't
have hydrants, which knocks about 40 percent off their score right off the top.
"We're doing the best
we can with the rules they've set against us," Olson said.
Rating methodology aside, Olson is very confident
in his department's capabilities.
"I guarantee you today we are better off and have more capabilities
than we did three years ago," he said.
The district firefighters did very well on last weekend's test,
which focused on how long it takes to get water to a fire, pumped into and out of vehicles and storage tanks, the deployment
of hoses the like.
"We've practiced this for the past seven months," Olson said. "Our times
were 15 percent better than they've been through our whole training. I couldn't be prouder of the people."
The outcome is uncertain. It'll take six months for the rating to come out and there is an appeal period following
that, if the district feels the need to challenge findings.
"How they rate is yet to be determined,"
Olson said. "I'm hopeful that we'll be able to maintain a 6. We'll stay a 6 for the time being, but the
deck is kind of stacked against us."
NEW Water Tenders!
We have replaced all three of our 1973 vintage water
tenders. The new Tenders carry 3,000 gallons of water each, on Kenworth heavy-duty chassis, with 750 gallon per minute pumps.
|3/22/2011 1:14:00 PM|
New camera helps firefighters
By Paul Seglund
|Training officer John Thomas demonstrates the capabilities of a new thermal imaging camera.
photo by Paul Seglund|
Looking to protect the citizens of Sisters Country,
the Cloverdale Fire District showed off their new thermal imaging camera last week.
This high tech but easy-to-use
device can not only help firefighters rescue people trapped by fire but also minimize property damage.
5200HD camera was purchased late in 2010 with grant money from the Deschutes County Commissioners and generous donations
by the Kiwanis Club. A thermal imaging camera utilizes night-vision technology to help firemen locate fire victims in smoke-filled
rooms and lead them to safety. Using infrared heat images, first responders can also locate hot spots in walls to limit
property damage by quickly finding the source of the fire.
Training Officer John Thomas of the Cloverdale Fire
Department demonstrated the new equipment, and how thermal images are captured, by placing a hand on the wall and then stepping
back to pull the trigger to illuminate a hand print on the wall.
Captain Matt Cyrus related an episode last summer
when a home was struck by lightning, but the ensuing fire was not visible even though smoke was pouring through the ventilation
system. The camera was able to locate the fire under the floor, and the firemen were able to target the blaze and extinguish
The camera is much more efficient at locating fires, according to Cyrus, as an image based on heat
or temperature differential can locate hot spots without resorting to cutting up walls or floors trying to find the source
of the blaze.
Other fire districts around the country are adopting this technology, and it has already led to
a reduction in fatalities of both firemen and victims by locating and bringing them to safety quickly, as opposed to blindly
looking for someone in a chaotic fashion during emergency rescues. The fire district is looking for another camera, and
donations are greatly appreciated, since having this technology can pay for itself in the first fire emergency.
They would like to outfit the other fire engine this year so any fire or even auto crash will have the camera available
to help people quickly.
Contact the Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District at 541-548-4815.