Tuesday’s special election has a handful of items on the ballot that impact voters in La Pine, Redmond and Crooked River Ranch.
Two of the ballot items are fire district operating levy requests that will determine if emergency response times keep up with population growth.
Central Oregon Daily News visited a burn-to-learn exercise in Redmond to learn more. Before demolishing an old home on SW Obsidian Avenue in Redmond, a developer allowed Redmond Fire and Rescue to conduct live fire training.
While crews took turns entering the burning building to learn how to control a structure fire, Redmond Fire Chief Pat Dale explained what measure 9-162 would do if approved.
“The levy funds will be used entirely for staffing. We want to add firefighter/paramedics or first responders — same name — and address our recruitment and retention issues that we have,” Dale said.
Redmond’s levy request is 75-cents per $1,000 of assessed value beginning July 1. The estimated annual cost to the owner of a home appraised at $200,000 is about $150 per year or about $12.50 per month.
“We are trying to catch up with the growth that we’ve seen in our fire district,” Dale said. “We cover more than just the city of Redmond. We cover Cline Falls, Terrebonne and parts of Jefferson County. In the last 10 years we’ve seen a 26% increase in population. Same 10 years, a 68% increase in call volume.
It’s a similar situation in Crooked River Ranch where the fire and rescue district is asking for a 28-cent per $1,000 of assessed value increase over their expiring levy.
“Over last 10 years, we’ve seen a 36% increase in total call volume. Along with that we are seeing what we call overlapping calls where the on-duty crew is on a call already and before they’re back we are getting toned out again for another,” said Sean Hartley, Chief of Crooked River Ranch Fire & Rescue.
If off-duty staff or volunteers aren’t available to respond, guess who Crooked River Ranch Fire calls for mutual aid? Redmond Fire and Rescue.
About 80% of calls to both fire departments are for medical emergencies prompting the need to hire more staff who are cross-trained as paramedics as well as firefighters.