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Sutherlin City Council to consider proposal for additional firefighters

The fire department currently only has three paid staff, and they hope this addition will help with response times.

Posted: May. 2, 2018 5:46 PM
Updated: May. 2, 2018 7:42 PM

SUTHERLIN, OR. -- The Sutherlin City Council will be hearing a proposal from the fire department, which would expand their staff and services.

The Sutherlin Fire Department is hoping that this proposal to bring on two more firefighters, as well as students, will help cut down on their response times.

The fire department currently has three paid firefighters, including the chief.

But, when their shift ends at five, they’re reliant upon the volunteer firefighters to help them respond to calls.

Right now, their response times in the evening are around ten minutes.

Fire Chief Mike Lane is hoping to hire two more fire fighters for that shift, and residents we talked to said they feel that would help in those dire situations.

“They call 911, and they need a responder right away. It’s between life and death," said Linda Salazar. "If they have to wait between fifteen and twenty minutes for someone to come out and check them, they could already be gone if they’re having a heart attack or some other major issue.”

Sutherlin won’t be providing ambulance services, but all of their fire fighters and some volunteers do have emergency medical service training.

Chief Lane said bringing on these two additional fire fighters will allow them to perform EMS services at all calls.

But to afford them, he had to make some cuts to the budget.

“When Sutherlin first started their fire department back, they had some huge costs to start up," said Chief Lane. "So, yeah, we’re going to increase our personnel side of our budget a little bit, but we’re going to reduce our material supply side of our budget. So, it somewhat offsets. It’s a little bit higher, but not drastically.”

He also intends to bring students from the Umpqua Community College Fire Science program back into the Sutherlin Fire Department.

“It’s totally my intention to get students back in here, because it’s a two-way street. We’re going to help try to fun some of their education for them, but they’re going to provide the department and the city some staffing on their fire engines and in their fire station.”

Chief Lane will be meeting with Umpqua Community College staff on Thursday, to discuss this proposed student partnership.

The city council will be voting on the proposal on May 14.

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