Tag: Portland Fire and Rescue

Fire Station 19 Saved in New Budget Proposal

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.

Fire Destroys Garment Factory

A fire broke out early morning at the Portland Garment Factory located at 408 SE 79th Ave. The 1931 era building suffered a complete structural collapse of its wood structure. The masonry portion of the building remains intact, but the building’s internal structure is a total loss. Representatives from Paul Davis Restoration, who are securing the site, indicated that the whole building is likely unsalvageable and requires demolition.

Portland Fire & Rescue responded to reports of a fire around 3:30 AM Monday. They found the building engulfed in flames and worked to contain the fire from spreading. The two-story commercial building is surrounded on both sides by parking lots. A single-story building on SE 80th abuts the rear wall of the Garment Factory. Damage to that building is not apparent.

Portions of SE Stark Street, SE 80th Ave, and SE 79th Ave are closed while fire crews continue to monitor the extinguished fire and prevent flare-ups. A GoFundMe donation page was established to help Portland Garment Factory rebuild their business ( https://gofund.me/19ab100f ).

Stark Street blocked by fire crews.

Portland Street Response Expands to Montavilla

This month, Portland Street Response (PSR) expanded its boundaries beyond the Lents neighborhood. Starting April 1st, PSR teams will offer a non-police response to a larger area that includes the eastern half of Montavilla. With the expanded service area comes a broader service scope that now includes public spaces inside buildings.

The PSR program officially launched in late February with a new approach to specific emergency calls. The program diverts non-violent calls involving people experiencing houselessness or behavioral and mental health issues to specialists equipped to resolve those situations. At launch, the program only addressed incidents occurring outdoors and did not have staff enter buildings. The recent changes permit the teams to enter publicly accessible spaces such as a business, store, or a public lobby. PSR is not responding to calls within a private residence.

Initially, the PSR program used Portland Fire & Rescue’s boundary system called Fire Management Areas (FMA) to assign calls to their team members. Within a month, it became apparent that they missed calls outside the FMA that PSR had the capacity to address. As a test, PSR will switch to using the Portland Police Bureau’s police district areas to determine their response zone. That change has lead to the increased service area that now includes Montavilla from 82nd Ave to I205.

Dispatchers determine what calls are assigned to fire, police, and PSR staff. Requests for assistance with any situation should continue routing through 911 or the non-emergency number at 503-823-3333. However, if you live in the expanded service area, there is a possibility that PSR could handle your call. A potential PSR response will encourage some residents to reporting situations that they may not have before. Many concerns don’t require a police response but instead, need trained specialists to de-escalate a situation.

People interested in following the PSR team’s progress can use a newly created dashboard to view aggregate metrics regarding calls and a heat-map of activity. Expect to see more PSR dispatches in Montavilla soon.

New expanded Portland Street Response area showing eastern Montavilla and the other service areas. That area includes SE Division St. on the north, SE Clatsop St. (roughly) on the south, SE 62th Ave. (roughly) on the west, and Powell Butte along the eastern boundary.

Proposed Budget Cuts Target Fire Station 19

UPDATE – Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler unveiled his proposed funding plan for the next fiscal year, restores funding cuts that would have reduced service at Montavilla’s Fire Station 19.


Last December, Mayor Ted Wheeler instructed bureau directors to reduce budgets by five percent for the upcoming fiscal year. Shortfalls in revenue over the previous year require a cutback in City spending. The resulting budget proposal from Portland Fire & Rescue removes services that would impact Fire Station 19 in Montavilla. Although the proposal argues against making those changes, it achieves the Mayor’s cost savings goal.

A proposed service reduction in the 2021-2022 budget would eliminate 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.

Portland has four RRV teams active in the City. Each unit requires 4 to 6.5 Full-time employees to operate. One of those RRV units is attached to Fire Station 19, located on E Burnside Street at NE 73rd. Stations 11, 23, and 31 house the other Portland RRV units. RRV crews at Station 19 responded to 3,129 incidents in 2020. Eliminating the RRV from Montavilla would substantially increase the workload on Engine 19, which is already the third busiest engine in Portland.

Although the RRVs are valued additions to Portland Fire & Rescue’s response team, some services they provide overlap with the new Portland Street Response program. Most services do not overlap, but that new program could replace some of RRV’s services. Portland Street Response is early in its development and does not cover the same area that RRV units currently serve. Consequentially, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Budget Advisory Committee recommends the restoration of RRV funding in the 2021-2022 budget instead of achieving the five-percent budget reduction. Besides keeping the RRVs, this budget promotes expanding the Portland Street Response program to 10 teams from the two already funded. 

The City’s annual budget process often seeks cost reduction opportunities and requires an earnest examination of department spending. The proposed reduction of services meets the Mayor’s target while offering the lowest performance impact possible, but with an expected service degradation. 

In reviewing the Portland Fire & Rescue’s proposal, the City Budget Office (CBO) is not recommending reductions to frontline services provided by RRV units. “RRVs are a relatively costeffective strategy for addressing lower acuity calls and are able to respond more quickly to more serious emergencies while other apparatus are still in route.”

Despite the favorable outlook on the RRV program, the CBO examined a possible reduction in hours that could provide some cost savings while avoiding the program’s shutdown. The CBO report proposes a peak staffing model as an alternative. That would reduce RRV schedules to a 10-hour daily shift, cutting the number of full-time employees needed.

Over the next month, Portland’s budget will receive input from City Council work sessions and community comments. During this time, city leaders will have to balance the budgetary shortfall against the need to provide essential services.

People interested in commenting on the budget will have an opportunity on Wednesday, May 5th, from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Sign-up before 4:00 pm on May 4th to contribute your comments at the Mayor’s Proposed Budget Hearing. There are also several dates before May 5th to listen and comment on budget matters. See the Budget Events website for details.

Rebuilding Fire Damaged Home on SE Stephens

Repairs to the single-story house at 8923 SE Stephens Street are underway after suffering severe fire damage. The 1953 era home caught fire two years ago and has reminded boarded up until this month. Fire damaged material is now removed, and work to restore the structure is waiting on permit approvals.

At 2:28 AM on January 13th, 2019, a fire started in the home’s kitchen area. The one occupant escaped the flames and smoke coming from the residence with minor injuries. First responders transported that person to a local hospital for treatment. According to the Portland Fire and Rescue report, crews had the fire under control by 2:48 AM. That report estimated damage to the home at $200,000.

Yesterday, repair crews submitted permit 21-002341 after removing siding, windows, and interior wall coverings the previous week. Work proposed in this permit application will only replace the windows and siding of the building. Other permits for electrical and plumbing will come at a later date.

Based on current plans, the building will be rebuilt with the same footprint and internal layout as it previously had. With the structure stripped down to the studs, the interior will be completely new. After a long time, nearby residents are happy to see this house restored to its former appearance and show signs of life again.

Fire on SE 76th Near Burnside

Portland Fire and Rescue extinguished a fire inside a duplex on SE 76th Ave. Crews had the fire under control by 11:33 AM today. Only a single room inside the back unit caught fire, and no injuries occurred.

The impacted duplex is located at 18 SE 76th Ave and accessed from a narrow driveway. Fire department vehicles parked on both SE 76th Ave and E Burnside Street. At least four fire engines and three support vehicles responded to the fire. Crews containing the fire broke a second-story window, adding to the smoke, fire, and water damage.

This duplex is adjacent to a two-story apartment building. The fast action from fire crews limited damage to the structure and surrounding buildings.