Last December, Mayor Ted Wheeler instructed bureau directors to reduce budgets by five percent for the upcoming fiscal year to address a pending citywide deficit. The resulting budget proposal from Portland Fire & Rescue removed services that would impact Fire Station staffing and services. However, the Mayor’s proposed budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year now restores funding cuts that would have reduced service at Montavilla’s Fire Station 19.
The previously proposed service reduction in the 2021-2022 budget would have eliminated four Rapid Response Vehicles (RRV). Portland Fire & Rescue added the RRV units to some fire stations several years ago to reduce response time and lessen the need to send out four-person fire engine crews to none-fire emergencies. An RRV is an SUV-style truck containing a two-person team. They dispatch quickly to incidents and often resolve calls without the need for additional firefighting equipment. The program has reduced response time and lowered the operational costs for Portland Fire & Rescue.
Thursday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler unveiled his proposed funding plan for the next fiscal year. In the Portland Fire & Rescue budget’s summary, staff acknowledges the need to maintain emergency response service levels. “Funding is… restored for the Rapid Response Vehicle program, totaling $2,752,318 in ongoing General Fund resources. These resources will help ensure the stable provision of frontline Fire Bureau services – ensuring quick response times to fires and medical calls for service.”
Portland Fire & Rescue received substantial community support during the budget negotiation process. Although some cuts will occur in the bureau’s budget, none will reduce emergency responder staff. Some administrative positions, many of them currently vacant, are being eliminated. Some reductions are unavoidable as shortfalls in revenue over the previous year require a cutback in City spending. However, the Fire Bureau is receiving the financial support they need to continue their life-saving work.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on Wednesday from 6 PM to 8 PM and then have a final vote on the budget in June.