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The City of Portland, Oregon

Fire & Rescue

Always Ready, Always There

Phone: 503-823-3700

Fax: 503-823-3710

55 SW Ash Street, Portland, OR 97204

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NEWS RELEASE 12/31/10: Portland Fire & Rescue Stops Fire From Spreading to Second Business

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) was dispatched at 8:35 a.m. on Sunday, January 31, 2010 to a commerical fire at "The Modern Hippie" located on the 49th block of SE Division.

Engine 9 arrived on scene at 8:37 a.m. to see smoke coming from the front door and fire coming out of a second story window 18 inches away from the business next door. Firefighters were also told that the occupant who lives upstairs had not gotten out of the structure. The Incident Commander called for a 2nd Alarm at 8:39 a.m. due to the need for extra fire crews. The 1st Alarm fire crews immediately began attacking the fire on the interior of the building, defending the business next door and began searching for the missing occupant on the second floor. Fire crews were able to establish that the occupant had gotten out safely and contain the fire to the building of origin. The fire was under control at 9:02 a.m. with the use of only the 1st Alarm companies. The 2nd Alarm companies were released from their staging location two blocks away.


The value of the structure is set at $160,000 with a loss of $130,000. There was a loss of $50,000 worth of contents. The fire extensively damaged the building and the roof had to be removed. The Red Cross is housing the occupant for the night. The fire cause is still under investigation by PF&R fire investigators. No injuries occurred.

Response included:

  • 8 engines
  • 4 trucks
  • 1 heavy rescue
  • 5 chiefs
  • 1 rehab vehicle
  • 3 investigators
  • 1 Public Information Officer to the scene
  • Total of 62 firefighters

January 31, 2010

PF&R Cares About Pets Too!

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Courtesy of YouTube, Daytona Beach Fire

In February 2007, through a generous donation from H.E.L.P. ANIMALS INC., Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) received a supply of oxygen masks for pets. In efforts to ensure the safety of pets, PF&R continues this program, training all PF&R firefighters in the proper use of pet masks in emergency situations.


The masks come in three sizes (small, medium and large) and fit snuggly on snouts. The masks can be used on dogs, cats, ferrets, rabbits, guinea pigs, and birds. The oxygen masks are used to resuscitate animals that have been rescued from fires and have been exposed to smoke or need supplemental oxygen due to respiratory disease. The oxygen mask is applied over the pet’s nose and mouth, creating a seal. Oxygen is then funneled to the distressed pet through the use of an oxygen bag or an oxygen cylinder.

The pet oxygen masks were originally developed for use by veterinarians but have evolved into rescue tools over the past several years. The kits that include a small, medium, and large mask cost approximately $55.00 a piece.  Most masks are reusable.   


Pet oxygen kits are stored in PF&R’s Chiefs’ vehicles and can quickly arrive on emergency scenes throughout the City.




H.E.L.P. ANIMALS INC. is a 501(c)3, tax deductible, non-profit, all volunteer organization established in 2003 that started a civic project to provide animal oxygen recovery masks to be put on local Fire agency apparatus to save animals overcome with smoke. Visit their website at to learn more and help! 

February 2, 2010

The Rest of the Story - Do You Know What's In Your Backyard?

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Photo courtesy of Beth Nakamura, The Oregonian

On January 16, 2010, Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) responded to a welfare check on SW 52nd Avenue and discovered what was later determined to be a tragic accident.  A 57-year-old SW Portland man had fallen into a 100-year-old, 35' deep cistern while gardening in his backyard.  With the water level 15' below the rim, the man was unable to escape and died.

Firefighter Justin de Ruyter was a first responder on the scene and Portland Fire's Public Information Officer that weekend.  After his experience, de Ruyter developed a new series for Fire Blog readers called "The Rest of the Story".  Through these blogs, Portland Fire will be following up on emergencies it responds to when a specific safety message can be beneficial for the public resulting from an incident.

According to de Ruyter, farmers commonly used cisterns to store water underground and used a windmill or some other type of pump to water crops and livestock.  Over time, cisterns became obsolete and were forgotten when the land was converted to residential or other uses.  Often times, cisterns were simply covered with boards and dirt.  With Portland's aging housing stock, properties have transferred; lawns, gardens, and construction have erased evidence of old cisterns; and the tops of cisterns that were not properly filled may have experienced decades of decay and weathering. 


Photo Examples of Cisterns

While people should not be fearful, it is important to know that old, abandoned cisterns, well pits, and septic cesspools exist in many locations and pose a rare, but serious threat to public safety.  In August 2009, a man was critically injured in Florida after falling 14 feet into an abandoned cistern in the backyard of a historic Key West home; the cistern's concrete lid was being used as a patio.  Accidents such as these may not always be preventable, but there are some steps that property owners can take to educate themselves about their property's history, including:

  • Cisterns often appear as a ring of concrete, tile, bricks, or rocks several feet in diameter.  A depression could indicate a cistern or abandoned septic cesspool that was not properly decommissioned.  If you have concerns about a depression on your property, a licensed plumbing or sewer contractor may be able to help determine whether you may have any of these facilities on your property.
  • County and City building records, some of which are available online at, date back to 1905 and may provide valuable information about your property's development history.  Development permit and records information is also available at the City of Portland's Bureau of Development Services.  Visit them at 1900 SW Fourth Avenue, First Floor or call 503-823-7660.
  • Sanborn Maps were originally created for assessing fire insurance liability in urbanized areas. The maps include detailed information regarding urban geography and building information in U.S. towns and cities from 1867 to 1970 and can be accessed for free through the Multnomah County Library by visiting; select research, databases A-Z and Sanborn Maps.
  • The Oregon Water Resources Department maintains historical data on water wells and regulates the decommissioning of wells.  Some of the data is available online at<>.

Stay tuned to the Fire Blog for future updates on emergency incidents and steps you can take to be informed, prepared and safe.

February 2, 2010

Fire Fighter Safety Blog: Protecting Firefighters' Health and Wellness

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Fire fighting has long been considered one of the most dangerous professions in America.  For years, the dangers of fire fighting were accepted as just 'part of the job'.  Decrepit buildings with no fire protection systems, limited and ineffective personal protective equipment, and rudimentary organizational practices on the fireground contributed to the hazardous aspects of the job.  Over the past 40 years the fire service has made great strides in legislating mandatory fire protection systems in new construction.  Our protective equipment, particularly our air supply, or self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) is vastly superior to anything available in the 1960's.  The introduction of the Incident Command System and other built-in safeguards to organize fire fighting efforts has made fire fighter safety a priority.  But the bottom line is always going to be the frailty of the human body.  We can only subject it to so much abuse, heat, and stress.  The number one killer of fire fighters across America is not smoke, fire, or structural collapse.  The number one killer is cardiovascular disease.  

For a variety of reasons, fire fighters are prone to heart attacks.  Whether it is the amount of work, the stress levels, or the combination of heat and monumentally hard tasks, there is something about fire fighting that induces cardiac events.  Roughly 100 fire fighters die in the line of duty every year in the US.  At least half of those deaths are caused by heart attacks. 

As the Chief Safety Officer for Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R), I have concentrated my efforts on enhancing fire fighter safety any way I can. We educate members to avoid contracting communicable diseases when treating patients. We teach fire fighters how to lift properly to avoid back injuries.  We look for cutting-edge procedures, equipment, gear, and policies that attempt to make our job safer. 

Protecting the health and wellness of fire fighters is also a top priority.  Several years ago, PF&R was on the cutting edge of an international program called the Wellness-Fitness Initiative (WFI) when it recruited several peer fitness trainers from its own ranks.  We applied for federal grants and received money to purchase new exercise equipment.  Now there is a renewed push from within our ranks to take the Health and Wellness Program to the next level, engage our membership and peer fitness trainers to make them aware that PF&R supports efforts to prevent cardiovascular disease, and ultimately a change in our culture that places emphasis on our wellness and ensures we look out for one another.  Only when we are well-trained and fit for the job can we effectively protect you, the citizens of Portland.  

February 2, 2010

Firehouse Recipe of the Week: Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter

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Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter




  • 40 asparagus spears, trimmed (about 2 pounds)
  • Cooking spray
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar


  1. Preheat oven to 400º.
  2. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet; coat with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Bake at 400º for 12 minutes or until tender.
  3. Melt butter in a small skillet over medium heat; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned, shaking pan occasionally.  Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce and vinegar.  Drizzle over asparagus, tossing well to coat.  Serve immediately.  Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 5 spears).

45 calories, 3g fat, 1.9g protein, 3.9g carb, 134mg sodium

February 3, 2010