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On March 30, 2016, Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman and Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Erin Janssens released the bureau’s new aggressive prevention campaign: Watch Your Butt. Though the campaign’s tagline is playful, the topic it covers is not: careless smoking and cigarette litter are the number one cause of fires and fire deaths in Portland.
In the city of Portland, we had 3,117 confirmed fires and over 1,400 of them were smoking related. In 2015, Portland had 11 fatalities from fire: the highest number of deaths in 18 years. Of the 11 deaths, five were from either careless smoking, or improperly disposed of smoking material. The goal with PF&R’s new program is to prevent tragedies like these from occurring in the future.
PF&R hopes Watch Your Butt attracts the public’s attention and makes smokers take a second to consider what can happen if they aren’t careful and don’t dispose of their cigarettes properly.
To get the message out, PF&R had drink coasters made up for bars to use and posters were made to share with any business that sells cigarettes or sees cigarette litter as a problem.
Beginning May 2nd, we’re taking this message to billboards and bus tails across the city. Community members can download their own poster, learn more about the dangers, and find out more about this issue at www.WatchYourButt.com.
PF&R keeps a close focus on prevention: by doing inspections, plan reviews, and educational outreach, the bureau works hard to make sure bad things don’t happen in the first place. Fire Chief Erin Janssens believes prevention is one of the main functions of a successful fire department.
“This focus, for me, comes from years of responding to fires throughout my career and seeing the devastation that occurs when people lose a family member, their pets, their homes, an irreplaceable photo or other mementos that can’t be replaced. All are all life-shattering,” Janssens says. “Once you experience a fire, you’re never the same. We want to keep our city and our community safe. With your help -- together -- we can make a difference.”
The program is ready to accept applicants to receive these life-saving devices
Portland Fire & Rescue has been awarded a $95,239 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for an outreach campaign to increase home safety for Portland’s deaf and hard of hearing community. PF&R will contribute an additional $4,761, making the total project amount $100,000. Applications are now being accepted.
PF&R’s education and outreach campaign using this grant emphasizes the importance of proper installation and use of special smoke alarms for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Those who wear hearing aids or cochlear implants that they remove when sleeping also require these specialized alarms in their homes. These alarms utilize bed shakers and strobe lights to warn those who can’t hear audible alarms that there is either fire or carbon monoxide danger. This type of alarm has proven to be effective because of its close proximity to sleeping residents. Thanks to this grant, PF&R will be able to install these life-saving alarms free of charge in qualifying homes in the City of Portland.
This program is purely voluntary and is offered to people with qualified disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, specifically those who are deaf or hard of hearing. This program is only for persons living in the City of Portland. There are a limited number of these specialized smoke alarms available and they will be provided on a first come, first served basis given in order to those qualified individuals who submit an application with all appropriate paperwork.
“I’m very happy both that technology exists to provide a reliable method of alerting people who are deaf or hard of hearing, and that Portland Fire & Rescue will be able to assist them,” said Portland Fire & Rescue Chief Erin Janssens. “This is another great step towards ensuring all residents in Portland can increase their chances of escaping a fire in their home by having working smoke alarms.”
PF&R has partnered with local deaf organizations and is being advised by a committee of members from the deaf community on how to best build a successful program. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 29,000 people with hearing loss reside in Multnomah County, the majority of whom live in the City of Portland. “The Oregon Association of the Deaf is pleased to support Portland Fire & Rescue in implementing this grant,” says OAD President Chad A. Ludwig. “This program will support the deaf community in staying safe in their homes and help educate those who can’t hear audible alarms why it’s so important to have one installed in their home. This grant is important and indispensable.”
Interested people who are deaf and hard of hearing can find out more and apply here right now: www.FlashShakeWake.org. Those with questions can contact grant administrators at email@example.com or call 503-823-3752 with questions.
As part of the bureau’s Community Risk Reduction program, deaf and hard of hearing residents will also be able to request free fire & life safety home inspections when firefighters install their alarms. “Thanks to this grant, we will be able to provide crucial safety equipment to otherwise vulnerable Portlanders,” says Portland Fire & Rescue Commissioner Dan Saltzman. “Equity means ensuring equal access to city services and this program will help us achieve those goals.”
PF&R's arson dog Lila retired in November and the bureau has a new top dog to welcome into its ranks
In November, Portland Fire & Rescue’s arson dog Lila retired after seven years of stellar service. Immediately following her retirement party, her handler Lt. Fabian Jackson left to go to the Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosive (ATF&E) Accelerant Canine Detection Team (ACDT) training center to start working with her replacement. At a press conference today, PF&R Chief Erin Janssens and Lt. Jackson introduced Zeus, PF&R’s newest top dog, to the media.
Zeus is assigned to Lt. Jackson, who also functions as an ATF Taskforce Agent. The duo returned to PF&R in December after training.
An arson dog can be conditioned to detect and alert hydrocarbons found in petroleum-based fuel in exchange for a reward in food. Like Lila, Zeus won’t eat out of a bowl until he retires.
Experienced canines are capable of detecting accelerants such as gasoline, diesel, kerosene, paint thinner, and charcoal fluid and can alert as well on over 20 different hydrocarbons.
After his training was complete, Zeus was certified by a chemist as being able to tell the difference between varieties of hydrocarbon scents in small quantities necessary to start a fire. This certification is crucial when evidence is uncovered by canines and their handlers, as they become a key point in criminal and civil trials.
Zeus will assist Lt. Jackson with fire scene investigations, especially in determining the origin and cause of a fire. All alerts by Zeus are verified by the Oregon State Crime Lab. To keep their skills sharp, the team trains at random intervals 2-3 times per day. PF&R’s Accelerant Canine Detection Team not only responds to incidents within the City of Portland, they are also members of the national response team and can be called to anywhere within the U.S.
Accelerant detection canines usually work a minimum of five years and no more than nine years of age. Zeus is co-owned by PF&R and the ATF through a mutual agreement until he retires, at which time he will be signed over to Lt. Jackson. Lila now resides with Lt. Jackson as a family pet, as Zeus will after his 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:
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,
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...