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The City of Portland, Oregon

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Phone: 503-823-3700

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55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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SafetyTIPS: Chimney and Woodstove Safety

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From 2004 through 2008 in Oregon, there were 2,899 home heating-related fires resulting in 12 deaths, 85 injuries, and more than $42 million in property loss. These heating-related fires also resulted in 34 injuries to firefighters.


Have your chimney inspected by a professional prior to the start of every heating season and cleaned if necessary. Creosote, a chemical substance that forms when wood burns, builds up in chimneys and can cause a chimney fire if not removed through cleaning. Always protect your home and your family by using a sturdy fireplace screen when burning fires. Remember to burn only clean, dry, seasoned firewood - never burn paper or pine boughs, which can float out the chimney and ignite your roof or a neighboring home. Do not use flammable liquids in a fireplace. If you are purchasing a factory-built fireplace, select one listed by a testing laboratory, and have it installed according to local codes.  If you decorate your fireplace with Christmas stockings or other seasonal decorations, don't burn fires in it.


Wood Stoves

Be sure your wood stove bears the mark of an independent testing laboratory and meets local fire codes. Building code information dealing with woodstove installations is available at  Follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper installation, use and maintenance. Chimney connections and chimney flues should be inspected at the beginning of each heating season and cleaned when necessary. Follow the same safety rules for wood stoves as you would for space heaters. Burn only clean, dry firewood, and be sure the wood stove is placed on an approved non-combustible stove board or hearth to protect the floor from heat and hot coals. Fireplaces and wood burning stoves are auxiliary home heating devices that demand care and attention in their purchase, installation, and maintenance. For someone considering the installation of a wood or coal stove, a fireplace, or a solid-fuel furnace, careful consideration must be given to the safety aspects of the equipment and the installation. Expert advice is often required. Instructions must be followed to the letter.


Following these precautions can reduce the possibility of a fire or injury related to woodstove use.

  • All wood burning stoves and fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected before the heating season begins.
  • Make sure that the door latch closes properly.
  • Furnaces and water heaters which have flue pipes attached to the chimney of a fireplace or wood burning stove should have tight fitting joints and seams.
  • Never use liquid fuel to start the fire in a fireplace or wood burning stove.
  • Ashes need to be thoroughly dampened, cooled, and stored outside away from the building in metal cans that are used solely for ash storage, not in compost piles, cartons, boxes or anything else that is combustible.
  • It is important to use only thoroughly dried hardwood. This will prevent or slow the buildup of creosote in the chimney that is the cause of many chimney fires.
  • Have the chimney and flue inspected by a qualified mason or chimney sweep prior to use. Cracks in the flue or mortar joints can allow flames and heated gases to extend into the walls or attic of a structure.
  • Use a fireplace screen to prevent flying sparks and embers from falling out onto the floor.
  • Install and maintain smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors to provide protection for your family.
  • Although following these precautions should reduce your risk of a chimney fire, be aware of the signs of one and know what to do if you encounter them -- a loud roar, sucking sounds, shaking pipes, hot spots on the wall or chimney, or smoke in the house or apartment. If you hear or see any of these sounds shut off the fire's air supply, get everyone out of the house quickly, and call 911 from a neighbor's phone.

For more fire prevention tips to keep you safe and sound, click here to visit and subscribe to Portland Fire & Rescue's YouTube account.

November 9, 2009

Supporting Veterans and Active Military

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Portlanders were invited to honor military veterans, the active military, and their families at the 35th Annual Veterans Day Parade in the Hollywood District on November 11, 2009.  The parade was sponsored by the Ross Hollywood Chapel and supported by the Hollywood Boosters Business Association.  

The parade began at NE 40th Avenue and NE Hancock and traveled east on NE Sandy Boulevard to NE 48th Avenue where a memorial ceremony took place. Speakers at the ceremony included Mayor Sam Adams, Commissioner Nick Fish, Portland Fire and Rescue Chief John Klum, and Portland Police Chief Rosie Sizer.

This year's grand marshal was John Neuman, Programs Director of Veterans of Oregon and Members of the Community.  John is a Portland native who served in the Air Force, including three years in Vietnam.  In 2000, he successfully got Interstate 205 renamed the Interstate 205 Veterans Memorial Highway.

Parade participants included marching bands from Grant High School, Beaumont Middle School, and Robert Gray Middle School, as well as the Madison High School drum line. The historic horse-mounted Buffalo Soldiers Moses William Chapter of the 9th and 10th Calvary joined several military entries. American Legion Post 1 carried the color guard and several Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops participated with parents and military veterans.

The finale of the event was especially impressive when the Oregon National Guard 142nd Fighter Wing conducted a patriotic fly-over.

November 12, 2009

Think Safe at the Safety Learning Center & Fire Museum

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The Jeff Morris Fire & Life Safety Foundation and Portland Fire & Rescue have teamed up to bring you a remarkable facility known as the "Safety Learning Center & Fire Museum."

The Safety Learning Center & Fire Museum, located at the Historic Belmont Firehouse at 900 SE 35th Avenue, is not your traditional museum.  The Safety Learning Center’s mission is to share the rich history and heritage of the fire service in Portland, Oregon and promote fire and life safety education for each and every guest. 

Stories, images, and firefighting equipment are housed at the Safety Learning Center. Whether it's an 1859 Jeffers Sidestroke Handpump Fire Engine, the 1879 Amoskeag Steam Pumper, or the 1860 Hose Cart, all are wonderfully restored and presented for close-up enjoyment by the public. 


Time lines decorate the walls and take the visitor decade by decade through the evolution of the city of Portland and Portland Fire & Rescue.  Images and stories are mounted in wooden ladders crafted by Portland's ladder shop decades ago.  The unique setting of the 1912 firehouse and the "tools of the trade" that decorate the facility provide an experience like no other "museum."   

While some exhibits span the life of Portland Fire & Rescue, not everything is 150 years old. Some tools, like the original "Jaws of Life," came into being in the 1970s and have already evolved far beyond the original design, which is on display. 

Tours are easily self-guided or, for a $1 donation, take the Audio Tour, which lasts 30 minutes and employs wonderful sound effects to supplement your tour.  As always, firehouse staff will be on hand to assist in your tour or answer any questions. Visits are free, but donations to the Jeff Morris Fire & Life Safety Foundation are always accepted. 


Upcoming Events and Important Dates


Safety Saturday

Safety Saturday at the Historic Belmont Firehouse occurs the second Saturday of each month from 10:00 am to 3:00 p.m.  Drop in during open hours to see the exhibits and learn about safety for you and your family.  No appointment is necessary. Scheduled Safety Saturday events include:

  • Saturday, November 14, 2009
  • Saturday, January 9, 2010

**Please note that from December 19, 2009 to January 8, 2010, the Safety Learning Center is closed for the holiday season.

For questions about tours, events, activities, or safety information, contact Don Porth at (503) 823-3615 or link to the official website at

November 13, 2009

For All That Chaplains Give Of Themselves, Sometimes They Need Our Help

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Photo Courtesy of website


Dwight Douglas served previously as a Chaplain for Portland Fire & Rescue and Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue. In May 2006, Chaplain Douglas was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy.  Cardiomyopathy refers to diseases of the heart muscle.  In these conditions, the heart muscle becomes enlarged or abnormally thick or rigid.  In rare cases, the muscle tissue in the heart is replaced with scar tissue.  He underwent a heart transplant in June 2006.  In December 2008, Dwight learned that a valve in his new heart was leaking excessively.  In February 2009, further testing revealed that the arteries of his heart were beginning to narrow and close off. 

Dwight currently needs a second heart transplant.  To help Dwight and his family raise money to cover the transplant expenses and other expenses related to his medical care, a pancake breakfast is being held in his honor at the Aloha Church of God on 18380 SW Kinnaman Road in Aloha, Oregon.  Volunteers and eaters are needed! 

Pancake Breakfast

Saturday, November 14, 2009 from 8:00 am to 11:30 am

Aloha Church of God -- 18380 SW Kinnaman Road Aloha, Oregon

$7.00 for adults, children ages 5 and under are free 

Visit Dwight Douglas’s website at  



Chaplaincy…Serving Those Who Serve

Everyday, people call on local fire services for help. The calls range from simple fires, to auto accidents, to structure fires with people inside. The victims include the very young to the very old. Seeing death and physical injuries can be difficult for firefighters and can produce feelings of guilt, helplessness, or anger.

Many fire agencies have implemented Chaplaincy Programs that provide counseling support to firefighters and on-scene support to victims and their families.  Fire Chaplains can also provide spiritual guidance, be a liaison with hospitals and clinics, explain insurance and benefits, and conduct/assist at funerals and weddings. 

November 10, 2009