Lakeview Volunteer Fire Department
245 N F Street
Lakeview, OR 97630
August 13, 2023
Citizens of Lakeview may have noticed many changes going on recently with the Fire Department. A few concerns have been brought to my attention and I would like to help dispel any rumors regarding the funding, organization, and operation of the department.
The department has recently transitioned to an all-volunteer model regarding staffing and response to emergencies. The previous model shared employees with our 911 dispatch center and back-up dispatchers would respond in a truck while volunteers would respond directly to the scene. This model served our community well for many years but presented some logistical and financial challenges. The new model has volunteers responding to the station to ensure that the necessary gear and apparatus arrives on scene and ready to go. When implementing this model, it was anticipated that this may cause a delayed response, however with much training and support our response times have been very competitive with the previous model.
The advantage of this is firefighters arrive with everything they need, fully geared up and ready to go upon arrival. To help mitigate response times we have also implemented a Duty Officer system that included the purchase of an SUV with firefighting capability. You may have seen this Fire Department SUV around town. This SUV is solely assigned to the Duty Officer for that shift and is intended to go with them to work, home, the store or whenever they may need to go during their day with the understanding that they are immediately available to respond to emergencies within the community. This has proven to be a huge benefit to our capability; it has improved our response times and has saved multiple structures within the community since implementation.
Another concern I have heard is people have seen fire trucks at volunteer’s properties or doing personal errands. Our department currently has a policy that allows for Volunteer purchased equipment to be used for the benefit of the volunteer and their direct family. This is one of the benefits that we as a department can offer to our volunteers that sacrifice so much of their time and energy into protecting our community.
Having an all-volunteer department has the added benefit of training for our volunteers to ensure that they know how to operate the equipment when an emergency arises. Complicated equipment such as ladder trucks require many hours of operation to become proficient, especially during the less-than-ideal conditions faced in many emergencies.
Another benefit we offer to our volunteers includes a retirement fund based on the time personnel have served in their career as volunteers. These benefits pale in comparison to the extraordinary number of hours our volunteers put in every year to stay current with the skills required for a very dangerous job.
As we move into the future, volunteerism will be the largest hurdle we will face. It is a lot to ask volunteers to take so much time away from families. Our volunteers all have very busy lives, with families, kids, school, sports, work. I am continually impressed by what our volunteers give and sacrifice every day to ensure the safety of our community.
I will continue to try and find ways to offer benefits to our volunteers, however the biggest benefit we provide is the satisfaction and pride of helping to protect families, friends, and the community during emergencies. If you haven’t considered it please think about volunteering; volunteers save our small community millions of dollars each year versus the cost of a fully paid department.
The community has also expressed concern that the department has had its funding severely reduced. The biggest reduction was due to staffing salaries of 911 being moved over and paid for fully by the 911 department. The Fire department’s budget for gear, equipment and operations has increased by approximately 79% over the last fiscal year. In the past staffing represented our largest single expense, the new organization and budget will allow us to improve our fleet of fire apparatus, provide better training equipment, replace gear, begin saving for capital improvements to our aging station and begin offering more benefits to our volunteers.
I am very proud of what our volunteers have accomplished in the last couple of months. Hundreds of hours of training have gone into implementing a new system that promises to be more efficient and effective in serving the community. I also would like to thank the Town of Lakeview for supporting these efforts and the department as it evolves to provide the best service possible for the citizens of Lakeview and the surrounding community.
Please reach out if you have any questions related to the Fire Department and what services we provide to the community or have an interest in volunteering with us.