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55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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Chief Erin Janssens Announces Her Retirement

Janssens will retire in April 2016

January 13th, 2016

Dear Members of PF&R,

After over 31 years in the Fire Service, nearly 28 of those with Portland Fire & Rescue, I’m pleased to announce my decision to retire this coming April. This gives me time to finalize a few projects and provides Commissioner Saltzman time to identify Portland’s next Fire Chief.
It has been an honor and privilege to serve as your Fire Chief. I am extremely proud to have had the opportunity to lead Oregon’s largest fire & rescue organization of 730 talented and highly trained people dedicated to protect lives, property, and the environment. I have loved coming to work each day, and am proud to call many of you friends.

Retiring is a difficult decision in a person’s life, but hopefully one we all will have the opportunity to consider; firefighters are exposed to increased dangers each day, and we all remember people who worked alongside us who never reached retirement age. My initial plan when I became Fire Chief was to retire in 2015, however as projects continued, I stayed to see those things through. What I’ve come to realize is that we will always be in the midst of one innovation or another, and every fire chief must at some point identify when they will pass the proverbial torch. I’ve stayed to finish goals I had set, including ensuring we had a solid and experienced leadership team in place to help the next Chief, and initiatives for the next generation to advance.

In the face of some of the most extreme budgets, together we have accomplished a tremendous amount during my tenure as Fire Chief. Here are some of our accomplishments we should all be proud of:

  • Kept every fire station in the city open with four person crews on critical fire apparatus.
  • Maintained minimum staffing of 165 Firefighters on duty each day and all Inspector positions.
  • Utilized two Quint apparatus to increase capabilities in the face of budget reductions/redeployments.
  • Re-introduced two person RRV’s to improve response reliability and response times of critical four-person crews on fire apparatus, sending the right resources at the right time.
  • Built and opened Station 21, serving land and marine response, on time and within budget, that includes a Community Meeting room, a display area for public education, and room for additional resources as needed.
  • Built two new state of the art fireboats- Kwansem and Skukum Ats, within budget.
  • Prioritized earthquake response capabilities with the Eastside Tech Rescue Annex, equipment, training, and protocols.
  • Increased callback apparatus by 40% without cost.
  • Improved firefighter health and safety through Radon testing and extraction systems.
  • Purchased new firefighter uniforms to meet NFPA recommendations.
  • Initiating new protocols for pregnant firefighters and family support.
  • Installing individual tap outs to combat firefighter sleep deprivation.
  • Increased community engagement, messaging, and prevention outreach.
  • Deployed two new Community Risk Reduction pilot programs (Home Safety Inspections and Firefighters as Role Models in After-School programs) with proven results
  • Developed campaign against illegal fireworks and expanded awareness of negative impacts
  • Developed PF&R’s Critical Data Points and moving the organization to be data driven
  • Maintained Class 2 ISO rating.
  •  Completed PF&R’s 5-year Strategic Plan to maintain a clear path forward through 2020.
  •  Worked with the Commissioner’s office to pass an ordinance requiring sprinklers in assembly occupancies to make our citizens and firefighters safer.
  • Marked ALS apparatus with ‘Paramedic’ to increase the public’s awareness of our capabilities.
  • Improvements to Fire Information System programs.
  • Deployed non-perishable food to all fire stations for use in an emergency that on rotation will be donated to help feed the hungry in Portland each year.

I’m proud of all that we have accomplished together. In my final months serving as your Fire Chief, I’m also looking forward to launching a new campaign to prevent Portland’s leading cause of fires (resulting in five fire deaths in 2015); PF&R’s Equity Roadmap and diversity training; work with providers-insurers for shared cost savings; preliminary GO Bond work; and pursuing HIPPA compliance. All of these projects will require ongoing support.

Again, it has been an honor and privilege to work alongside all of you serving our city, preventing emergencies from occurring, and helping people in their time of need. In an increasingly complex world, the training, skills and abilities required of all of you continues to grow. And I know you will continue to work hard to keep our city and people safe.

Like every Chief before me, your safety and well-being has been my, and will continue to be every fire chiefs utmost priority. I thank you and your families for your commitment to serve, day-in, day-out, throughout all extremes in weather, 24/7, 365 days a year. Be proud of your past, learn in the present, continue to move forward and look to the future. I am extremely proud of you and look forward to seeing you this spring for Chief’s Inspections.

Be safe out there,

Erin Janssens
Fire Chief

Portland Students Compete In Fire Safety Coloring Contest

Portland classrooms took out their crayons to illustrate safety messages.

Portland students took part in a coloring contest sponsored by Portland Fire & Rescue. Firefighters visited area schools and explained safety messages students should cover, such as "Hear a Beep Where You Sleep: Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm," "Fire Catches, So Don't Play with Matches," and "Fireworks Facts." Students got creative and Fire Chief Erin Janssens picked the winning submissions. All the winners were awarded prizes. Here are the winning entries...

Fire Catches, Don't Play with Matches

By Sabin First Grade Student

 

Two Ways Out

By Sabin Second Grade Student

 

Fireworks Start Fires Every Year

By Sabin Fifth Grade Student

 

Don't Set off Illegal Fireworks

By Sabin Fifth Grade Student

 

That Was Supposed to be Fun, but Now Your House is Done!

Sabin Fifth Grade Student

 

Always Have a Way Out

By Sabin Fifth Grade Student

 

Use Battery Operated Candles Instead of Real Ones

By Kelly Elementary School Fourth Grade Student

 

Home Escape Plan

By Buckman Elementary First Grade Student

PF&R Marks 5-Year Anniversary of Carbon Monoxide Law During Heating Season

Carbon monoxide alarms that were installed when the law requiring them in Oregon homes are nearing the end of their useful life. Portland Fire & Rescue would like to remind residents to be safe and replace them before the holiday season when families use many fuel burning appliances at the same time.

On July 1, 2010, the Lofgren and Zander Memorial Act (Oregon Revised Statutes, 90.317) went into effect throughout Oregon, requiring landlords to ensure their properties have one or more properly functioning carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in or near all sleeping areas when they entered into new rental agreements. Since then, Oregon has increased the scope of the legislation, to require landlords to install CO alarms in all their properties, regardless of lease status. Oregon also now requires sellers of any residence, including one- and two-family homes, to install CO alarms. More information can be found at: Oregon State Legislature, http://www.oregonlaws.org/ors/90.317.

Even if the law does not pertain to your specific type of dwelling, fire officials urge everyone to be safe and install CO alarms now.

Today's newer 10-year CO alarms contain non-removable 10-year batteries. These alarms provide peace of mind because the batteries do not need to be changed. Simply replace the entire alarm at the end of its 10-year life.

PORTLAND FIRE & RESCUE EDUCATIONAL OUTREACH
To help with this educational, life safety outreach, First Alert has donated 250 carbon monoxide alarms to the Friends of Portland Fire & Rescue Foundation. To see if you qualify for one of these alarms, call PF&R's Smoke Alarm Hotline at 503-823-3752.

HOW MANY CARBON MONOXIDE ALARMS DO I NEED?
The U.S. Fire Administration (www.usfa.fema.gov) recommends that homes have carbon monoxide alarms installed in a central location outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of your home. More carbon monoxide facts can be found at www.firstalert.com.

PF&R's Fire Protection Rating Remains at Class 2

Portland Fire & Rescue has been notified by the Insurance Service Office (ISO) that the fire protection rating for PF&R will remain at Class 2

Portland Fire & Rescue has been notified by the Insurance Service Office (ISO) that the fire protection rating for PF&R will remain at Class 2.

Insurance companies use ISO fire protection ratings to determine home owner and business insurance premiums. ISO evaluates fire department equipment, staffing, station locations, training, fire prevention efforts, the community water system, 9-1-1 systems and many other factors to assign a protection rating. The Insurance Service Office has been evaluating and assigning ratings to fire departments since 1971.

"Despite reductions in staffing due to budget cuts, we're very pleased that we've managed to receive a score of 81.29 and retain a Class 2 ISO rating, which plays a part in reducing everyone's cost of living in Portland. Whether or not you pay property insurance directly, Portland's strong ISO rating helps to keep premiums low, and these costs affect everyone," said Fire Chief Erin Janssens.

ISO scores range from 1.00 to 100.00. PF&R needed a minimum total score of 80.00 to remain a Class 2 rated city. PF&R would need a score of 90.00 to receive a Class 1 rating, which would lower property insurance rates by an additional 5-8% (depending on construction and occupancy, according to ISO). For the property owner paying $700 a year, this equates to a reduction of $35-$56. Multiplied by Portland's approximately 220,000 structures, Portland's Class 2 rating translates into a current savings ranging from $7.7 to over $12.3 million dollars. Conversely, if Portland slipped to a Class 3 rating, people would see an equivalent increase.

Lila the Arson Dog Toasted at Retirement Party

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Lt. Fabian Jackson removed the badge from around the neck of his partner since 2008 at an emotional ceremony

Today, Lila (Portland Fire & Rescue's Arson Dog since 2008) ate her first bowl of food since starting her career seven years ago. To help in her work, her trainer and partner Lt. Fabian Jackson has only fed her bits of food from his hand in full training mode. Today, on the eve of her ninth birthday (the age all dogs who are part of the Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosive (ATF&E) Accelerant Canine Detection Team (ACDT) Program must retire) Lila received a bowl of food from Lt. Jackson that she eagerly chowed down on in front of a bank of television cameras and colleagues from the bureau.

Lt. Jackson, a 27-year veteran with Portland Fire & Rescue, works with the investigations unit and acts as an ATF&E Task Force Officer as well. He and Lila have traveled all over the country to help sniff out accelerants and piece together the cause of fires. Today was an emotional one for Jackson as his loyal partner who has been by his side at all times for the past seven years will no longer be coming to work with him.

Lila started her career as an eight-week-old puppy training to be a guide dog for the blind in Texas. Due to her keen sense of smell and love for birds, Lila was redirected to the ACDT program. Lila arrived at the ATF&E canine training facility six weeks prior to Jackson’s arrival. Lila and Jackson spent the next six weeks learning their new craft and bonding.

Once graduated and certified, the team was called into action from as far north as Ferndale, Washington to as far south as Phoenix, Arizona with the ATF&E National Response Team (NRT). Lila has worked scenes as small as vehicle fires to as large as commercial buildings a city block long. 

Lila has worked numerous fire scenes that have resulted in custodies and arson convictions throughout the states of Oregon and Washington. Lila can sniff out 30 flammable substances. When she detected something, she would sit and look at Jackson for a treat. He’d reward her with fish-flavored kibble.

One memorable conviction Lila helped with was when Portland Fire & Rescue investigators were looking to prove that the man suspected of setting a blaze at the home of his ex-girlfriend was in fact the arsonist. The suspect was violent and had threatened the homeowner. At the crime scene, there were no fingerprints and no traces of DNA. Lila picked up a trail of gasoline spread throughout the house and this evidence was used in part to convict the arsonist.

Lt. Jackson will be going to the ATF&E canine training facility to be assigned and train PF&R’s new arson dog. Lila will join Jackson and his family at home and spend her days relaxing: eating bowls of food, sniffing flowers instead of accelerants, and catching balls not arsonists. PF&R thanks Lila for her service and presented her with a new dog bed adorned with fire bureau patches.

Here's some more photos from today's event...