Call Volumes Increasing an Average of 3.7% Per Year
Marion County Fire District #1 wants to hire two firefighter/paramedics to respond to increasing call volumes. This would require an operating levy increase from taxpayers, and the Fire District is holding two meetings to take public input on the issue.
The meetings will be held on November 5 at 5:00 p.m. in Four Corners (300 Cordon Road NE, Salem, OR 97317), and November 21 at 5:00 p.m. at the Brooks Training Center (4910 Brooklake Road NE, Salem, OR 97305). The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Those who would like to provide input but are unable to attend are encouraged to contact Fire Chief Kyle McMann at (503) 588-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All comments are appreciated and become part of the public record.
The operating levy increase is proposed at 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value or $4.67 per month ($56 per year) for the owner of a home assessed at $200,000. If approved by the Board of Directors, the measure would be included on the ballot for the May 2020 Primary Election.
Fire Chief Kyle McMann says that the District started to see response times increase and developed a Strategic Plan to address this concern. The Strategic Plan is available on the website at www.mcfd1.com.
“The fact is that we have an aging population requiring more emergency services, and we don’t have enough personnel to respond,” said Chief McMann. “An incremental increase to our operating levy will help us meet this demand.”
The Fire District also is contending with an increase in emergency calls that happen back-to-back, and a sharp decrease in the number of volunteer firefighters serving the area. Volunteer participation has declined 52.4%, from 84 response volunteers to 40 since 2013. These issues impact the Fire District’s ability to get an effective response force on scene.
“Two more full-time firefighters in the immediate future will help,” said Chief McMann. “We will need additional personnel, but want to increase staffing gradually to minimize the impact to our taxpayers. This is the right way forward.”
A portion of the operating levy increase also would be used to replace aging apparatus and equipment. Reliable apparatus is necessary to respond to calls, and also to maintain the Fire District’s insurance rating which is linked to what home and business owners pay in premiums.
Marion County Fire District #1 is independent of the county, and a separate taxing authority. It has been providing emergency services since 1939 and includes the communities of Four Corners, Middle Grove, Pratum, Macleay, Brooklake, Clearlake, Labish, and Chemeketa College Station.