An increase in calls and a reduction in volunteer officers is making it difficult to maintain the level of service at one local fire district.
The Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District, East of Sisters is asking for a five-year levy of $0.69 per $1,000 assessed for 24/7 officer staffing on this year’s May ballot.
“Were needed,” said EMR volunteer at Cloverdale RFPD Rex Parks Sr.” ‘All of the volunteers are needed and the volunteers need experienced officers to make sure that they feel safe going in. That they know the person they are following knows what they are doing.”
Parks was a Cloverdale Rural Fire Protection District volunteer officer for 20 years.
Due to recent injuries, he’s been forced to step down from his leadership role, but still volunteers his time.
“I wouldn’t have done it if it wouldn’t have been for the community,” Parks Sr. said. “I wouldn’t have done it if it wasn’t for the volunteers here.”
The fire district covers around 50 square miles of rural and residential property.
It used to have five volunteer officers and three paid officers.
Between injuries and retirement at the station, only two volunteer and paid officers remain.
“Cloverdale is the only one in Deschutes County that is primarily volunteer staffed,” said president of the Cloverdale RFPD Volunteer Association Alan Smoke.
Service calls are increasing drastically, making response times and availability difficult.
“The two paid staff just can’t cover all the hours in a day and in a month that need to be covered.” Smoke said.
“If it is during the day, during working hours we hardly have anybody,” Smoke added. “It might just be the officer and the student responding.”
The District is funded through a permanent property tax base rate of $1.09 cent per $1,000 assessed
They are asking for a five-year levy on this May’s ballot of an $0.69 cent increase per $1,000 assessed.
“Everything in that $0.69 is to pay for two additional positions,” said Fire Chief Thad Olsen. “There is no fluff. It is strictly for wages to bring those personal in.”
The Volunteer Association says the two additional staff will increase response times by having someone available 24/7 and increase the safety of their volunteers.
“If you show up on a fire scene or a traffic accident, you may do something that may not only harm the people involved but the firefighters,” said Vice President of the Cloverdale RFPD Volunteer Association Larry Turin.
The Firefighters say remaining down this same path is not sustainable.
“We are asking for help to have a functioning, dependable and safe fire department for the community,” said Olsen.