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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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Meet and Greet at Commissioner Leonard's Office

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Commissioner Randy Leonard

PF&R's Accelerant Detection Canine Lila

Lila, Portland Fire & Rescue’s Accelerant Detection Canine, and her handler, Lieutenant Jackson, stopped by Commissioner Randy Leonard’s office for a quick meet and greet this morning.  Lila nosed her way around his office, greeting his staff and ensuring all was well. 

Click here to read Commissioner Leonard’s blog and see more pics of him and Lila!  

PF&R's Accelerant Detection Canine Lila

More Information about Lila

Lila, a black Labrador retriever, joined PF&R and now works with an arson investigator. Lila was trained at the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives Accelerant Detection Canine Program. After several months in the program, she met her handler, Lieutenant Jackson. Lieutenant Jackson and Lila trained together in Front Royal, Virginia, for an additional six weeks – seven days a week – before they began working together at PF&R.

Lila, whose official title is “Accelerant Detection Canine,” is conditioned to associate food with successfully detecting hydrocarbons. Lila is very much a food-motivated canine, so it didn’t take her long to catch on. At the end of her training, a chemist certified that Lila can tell the difference between a variety hydrocarbon scents in the small quantities necessary to start fires. This certification is crucial because evidence uncovered by canines and their handlers can be a key point in criminal and civil trials.

Arson canines can be instrumental in the investigation of fire scenes. Trained to detect and alert to microliters of petroleum-based fuels, Lila’s nose can make the difference between determining the cause of a fire or not. Accelerant canines have had better results detecting accelerants than electronic detection devices. Although hydrocarbon detectors can be quite sensitive, accelerant canines can pinpoint traces of accelerants at levels lower than the detectors can register. Additionally, detectors do not discriminate between burned petroleum-based items normally found at a fire scene, like foam cushions, and items that might contain an ignitable liquid. Accelerant canines can, and do, detect those differences.

Accelerant canines also save time and resources at a fire scene. What might take an hour of fire-scene process time can take only minutes with a trained canine assistant. In some cases, the fire damage is so severe that burn patterns are obliterated. Even in a total burn out, the canine is able to detect trace evidence left behind.

It should be noted that, while Accelerant Detection Canines are valuable tools in arson investigation, they can not and do not replace the need for thorough and experienced fire investigators and crime labs. The canines can only point to evidence, not determine cause and process. Nonetheless, working collaboratively with a professional fire investigator, a properly trained canine investigator team is the best tool available to find trace evidence of ignitable liquids.

PF&R obtained Lila through a partnership with the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). As a part of the ATF’s national response team, Lila and her handler can be deployed to major events anywhere in the country.

Since Lila came to work for PF&R, she and Lieutenant Jackson have been quite active. Positive alerts from Lila are collected as evidence by Lieutenant Jackson and sent to the Oregon State Forensic lab chemist for confirmation. Lila has an extremely high percentage of alerts coming back as confirmed positive. She has responded to scenes where destructive devices (Molotov cocktails) were used on both residences and motor vehicles, fire-related suicides, fatal fires, and intentional fires with the use of accelerants and initiators. Lila has also preformed vehicle and people searches.

December 3, 2009


Retired Harbor Pilot takes a Trip Down Memory Lane

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It takes defined and considerable skill to navigate, operate, maintain, and pilot each of Portland Fire & Rescue’s (PF&R) four fireboats.  Harbor pilots throughout PF&R’s history have been responsible for not only piloting fireboats but providing general maintenance to engines, pumps, and auxiliary naval and fire fighting equipment.

One of PF&R’s notable Harbor Pilots began his career at PF&R at 56 years young.  After serving close to 32 years as a harbor pilot for Portland Police, Robert Lester became a harbor pilot for PF&R.  He retired in October 1981 after serving nine years at Portland Fire.

Robert Lester will be turning 92 years young on December 3, 2009.  To celebrate this momentous occasion, his family and friends arranged for Robert, his wife Yvonne, family, and friends to take a ride on the Fireboat David Campbell for old time’s sake.  The Fireboat David Campbell is currently docked at Station 6 on NW Front Avenue.


On Tuesday, December 1, 2009, wearing a Portland Fire & Rescue jacket, Robert Lester climbed aboard the Fireboat David Campbell for the first time in 25 years.  His son, Tony Lester, noted that this was especially poignant for Robert as he helped design the cabin for the fireboat when the boat was “modernized” in late 1970’s.  As the fireboat was piloted to the Willamette River, the excitement was apparent on Mr. Lester's face.

Portland Fire & Rescue thanks Robert Lester for his service to the Portland community and wishes him many more happy birthdays!

Did You Know?

The Fireboat David Campbell was built in 1927 and is 87'6" long.  It was repowered in the 1970's, and currently has diesel propulsion engines and diesel dedicated pumping engines. The fireboat’s four fire pumps have a total output of 15,000 gallons per minute, the pumping capacity of 10 fire engines, and its main turret alone can flow approximately 7,500 gallons per minute.

December 2, 2009

Candle with Care

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Every year, thousands of home structure fires are started by candles. These fires can result in civilian deaths and injuries and millions of dollars in direct property loss. Candles may be pretty to look at but they are a cause of home fires — and home fire deaths. Remember, a candle is an open flame, which means that it can easily ignite anything that can burn.


Safety Tips



Candle with Care

  • Blow out all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Avoid the use of candles in the bedroom and other areas where people may fall asleep.
  • Keep candles at least 12 inches away from anything that can burn.

If you do burn candles, make sure that you...

  • Use candle holders that are sturdy, and won’t tip over easily.
  • Put candle holders on a sturdy, uncluttered surface.
  • Light candles carefully. Keep your hair and any loose clothing away from the flame.
  • Don’t burn a candle all the way down — put it out before it gets too close to the holder or container.
  • Never use a candle if oxygen is used in the home.
  • Have flashlights and battery-powered lighting ready to use during a power outage. Never use candles.

To download further NFPA safety tips on candles, click here.

December 2, 2009

Fire Fighter Safety Blog: A Welcome Message from Safety Chief Jeff Bancroft

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Welcome to the first Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) Fire Fighter Safety Blog.  My name is Jeff Bancroft, and I am the Safety Chief for PF&R.  I am responsible for helping to fostering a safe and accident-free bureau and for keeping PF&R compliant with all appropriate workplace and fire/safety regulations.

The Fire Fighter Safety Blog will be my soapbox I can stand on to talk about how PF&R keeps fire fighters safe, the latest issues and projects I am dealing with, and the activities of the Safety Committee, the Metro Safety Officers Committee, Risk Management, Training, and all of the other organizations I work with day-in and day-out. 

I have just returned after a week in sunny LA (go ahead and be jealous, all I did was work. Honest!).  The bi-annual IAFF-sponsored Redmond Symposium is the largest Fire Fighter safety health and wellness convention in the world.  About 1,000 fire fighters from all across the US and Canada converge every other year to discuss fire fighter safety issues, learn about new advances in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for fire fighters and protocols, and network with members of other fire departments. 

It was without a doubt the most valuable, and inspirational conference I have ever attended.  The passion for fire fighter safety is a real mission....sounds corny, but it is a higher calling.  The passion for fire fighter safety is also highly contagious.  I have taken pages and pages of notes over the past week.  I have heard many new ideas that I will incorporate into the fire fighter training I am responsible for.  I have numerous inspirations for future Safety Bulletins, and a lot of material to write about.  Some of it is controversial, and some of it is common sense.

I intend to use my blog as a method of airing ideas, sticking my toe in the water on issues that interest me, and sometimes propose changes I would like to see.  I wish this to be an interactive process.  For the internal PF&R employees, you all know how to get hold of me.  For everyone else, feel free to email me with questions or suggestions at any time.  I’m at

So look for my blog that will be posted every two weeks – I welcome your feedback and I promise to always listen.

Until next time – BE SAFE!