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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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Fire Commissioner Randy Leonard Passes PF&R's Physical Agility Test (PAT)

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Firefighters must be in excellent physical condition to meet the demands of the job.  They must work quickly while handling heavy equipment for long periods of time and wear special protective gear in hot conditions while performing demanding tasks. 

Think you could handle it?

Commissioner Randy Leonard came out to show his support for the fire bureau by taking the Physical Agility Test (PAT).  Each firefighter candidate is required to take and pass the PAT test which includes several tasks similar to those performed by firefighters on the job.  These tasks are designed to test strength, stamina, endurance, agility and ability to work at heights. Candidates must complete the Physical Agility Test within PF&R’s time standard of 8 minutes and 2 seconds wearing a helmet, turnout jacket, and Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) facsimile (weight 21 lbs).


The events in the PAT test include a simulated ladder rack, hose carry, electric fan, fan placement, ladder raise, ladder halyard, body drag, foam bucket carry, and simulated hose pull. 



Commissioner Leonard passed the PAT Test with a respectable time of just over 7 minutes. In the company of a PF&R Safety Officer and when properly equipped, Commissioner Leonard is now qualified to be on the fireground. PF&R is fortunate to have such a hands-on Commissioner!


To learn more about PF&R’s PAT Test, click hereLink here to view Commissioner Leonard's blog.

December 15, 2009

Operation Holiday Cheer: Keeping YOU Safe

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Fire loss history has shown that the largest loss of life occurs in assemblies and nightclubs as a result of overcrowding, inadequate exiting, and the improper use of open flame devices or other sources of ignition combined with combustibles.

To prevent a tragedy of this type from occurring in the City of Portland during this New Years Eve celebration, Portland Fire & Rescue inspectors from the Fire Prevention Division will perform night inspections at venues that anticipate having the potential for a large attendance.

The goal of Operation Holiday Cheer is to ensure a safe environment for the public as much as possible given the potentially challenging circumstances with large numbers of people. This goal will be accomplished by primarily checking for adequate exiting and overcrowding in nightclubs, assemblies and other venues. The inspectors will ensure that all exits are viable, there is nothing stored in exit ways, doors are unlocked and easily openable and occupant loads are not exceeded.  Any blocked or locked exits shall be required to be cleared or opened immediately.  They will also be checking for proper use of open flame devices, such as candles, and propane heating devices.

There are some vital components to keep in mind when you are out on the town in any type of large venue.  One of the first is to know where the exits are located, besides the one you came in through.  The exit pathways should be clear of furniture or other obstructions, and the exits should be easily identified and not blocked or chained.

If an alarm sounds or you see smoke, fire or any other unusual disturbance, use the closest exit to you, even if it isn’t the main exit. Once you have evacuated, stay out. You never want to enter a burning building; let our firefighters conduct the search/rescue and fire fighting.

It is important to take the time to learn about the public assembly buildings you may enter so that you know what to do if the unexpected happens. Watch the public service announcement below for tips to get out safely should a fire unexpectedly erupt while you're busy celebrating!

December 24, 2009

SafetyTIPS: Ice and Cold Water Safety

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Ice and Cold Water Safety 


Each winter, people are injured from exposure in cold water incidents.  Cold water is defined as any water that is cooler than normal body temperature (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit). Cold water drains away body heat 25 to 30 times faster than air! Cold water just has to be colder than you are to cause hypothermia. The lower the temperature of the water, the faster the onset of hypothermia can be.



What is hypothermia?

Hypothermia is the excessive lowering of body temperature. A drop in core body temperature below 95 degrees F. causes shivering, confusion, loss of muscle strength, and if not treated and reversed, hypothermia leads to unconsciousness and death.


How Can I Prevent Hypothermia?

To prevent hypothermia, wear layers of warm clothing, protect your head and hands from the elements by wearing winter hats and gloves/mittens, keep as dry as possible, always wear a personal floatation device when around cold water, and carry matches in a waterproof container.

Helping Someone with Hypothermia

  • Calling for medical help immediately!
  • If the situation is safe for you to do so, remove the person from the cold water or cold air.
  • Remove wet clothing.
  • Keep the victim as dry as possible.
  • Wrap the victim in blankets or in a sleeping bag.
  • Build a fire to warm the victim.
  • Give the victim warm fluids to drink (no alcohol or caffeinated drinks).
  • Seat the victim in a warm shower or warm bath with the arms and legs of the victim out of the water. This allows the core of the body to warm first.



Ice on moving water in rivers, streams, and brooks is never safe. The thickness of ice on ponds and lakes depends upon water currents or springs, depth, and natural objects such as tree stumps or rocks. Daily changes in temperature cause the ice to expand and contract, which affects its strength. Because of these factors, no one can declare the ice to be absolutely “safe”.


What if Someone Falls Through the Ice?

  • Act quickly and call 911 for help immediately. Make sure properly trained and equipped rescue personnel are alerted to respond.
  • DO NOT go out onto the ice. Many times would be rescuers become victims themselves.
  • Reach, Throw or Row. Extend a branch, pole or ladder to the victim. Throw them a buoyant object such as a life ring or float tied to a rope. If a boat is nearby row out to the victim or push it toward them.

And Remember…

  • Always wear a personal floatation device when boating, any time of year.
  • Waterlogged clothing makes it difficult to keep your head above the surface of the water.
  • Dress properly.
  • Keep your head covered, 50% of body heat is lost through the head. Clothing that is made from man-made fibers does not protect the wearer for long when wet. Wool insulates better from the effects of hypothermia when dry or wet.

If you fall into cold water, bring your knees to your chest, hold your arms to your sides and clasp your hands, and cover your head if possible to protect your body from heat loss. DO NOT try to swim unless a boat, floating object, or the shore is close by. Swimming causes “warm” blood to circulate to your arms and legs, where it cools off quickly and reduces survival time by as much as 35-50%!

It’s not about saving lives; it’s about saving your life.

December 28, 2009

NEWS RELEASE 12/29/09: Portland Fire & Rescue Appoints Erin Janssens as Fire Marshal

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Erin Janssens was appointed by Fire Chief John Klum as Portland Fire & Rescue's (PF&R's) Fire Marshal on December 22, 2009. Chief Janssens, Portland's first female Division Chief and Fire Marshal, oversees the Prevention Division with 59 employees and an operating budget of $7 million. As Portland's Fire Marshal, Janssens will oversee Fire Investigations, Code Enforcement, Plans Review, Public Education, Fire Alarms, and the Harbor Master.


Janssens, a Portland-area native, entered the Fire Service in 1985 as a volunteer firefighter in Boring, Oregon while working on her degree in Fire Technology. In July of 1988, she began her career with PF&R as a firefighter. Eight years later in 1996, she was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and then to the rank of Captain in July 2001, where she served at Stations 3 and 13. As a Captain, she was instrumental in Emergency Management's transition from PF&R to the Portland Office of Emergency Management (POEM) under the Office of the Mayor.

In July 2006, she was promoted to the rank of Battalion Chief in Emergency Operations, and then appointed Deputy Chief of Special Operations beginning in April 2008. Janssens is proud that in her tenure as either a firefighter or company officer, she had the opportunity to work at each one of Portland's 30 fire stations.


Prior to her appointment as Fire Marshal, as both a Battalion and Deputy Chief, she worked collaboratively with multiple agencies on issues affecting PF&R's emergency response efforts such as lightrail, streetcar, bicycle/pedestrian projects, green streets, storm water facilities, and primary emergency response routes. Since 2002, Chief Janssens has overseen the Metropolitan Medical Response System (MMRS) grant providing over $1.5 million to the region for equipment necessary for firefighters responding to mass medical surge related events.

As the Deputy Chief of Special Operations, she oversaw the Emergency Medical System (EMS) section, Battalion Headquarters, Special Emergency Response Team (SERT) medics, PF&R POEM liaisons, Fire Police Disability & Retirement Coordinator, Return-to-Work Program, and continued to serve as the Transportation liaison and Grant Chair to the Urban Area Securities Initiative (UASI) and MMRS grants.

As the Regional Fire Working Group Chair for the UASI, Janssens has worked with other fire chiefs to develop regional strategies for both human-caused and natural disasters, improving firefighters' ability to respond to these events more safely and effectively. This effort has secured millions of federal dollars to fund substantial apparatus and equipment purchases necessary for large-scale events. Recently, she was instrumental in the development and distribution of a regional plan to prepare emergency responders for dealing with the H1N1 virus.

Janssens is most proud of the enormous role firefighters serve in the community. In addition to ‘running into burning buildings when others run out', firefighters provide for public safety at every turn through the enforcement of fire codes, plan review, inspections, fire and medical response, hazardous materials response, marine, dive, and confined space response, urban search and rescue, and fire investigations.

"Portland Fire & Rescue has an incredibly talented and highly trained group of people that I'm extremely proud of. Our job is two-fold; to create a safe environment for Portland's citizens, as well as to protect life and property by helping people when they need help the most," said Janssens. "As Portland's Fire Marshal, I look forward to leading PF&R's safety and prevention efforts."

Janssens holds numerous certifications and is working on her Bachelor of Science Degree in Fire Administration at Eastern Oregon University.

December 29, 2009

Fire Fighter Safety Blog: Employee Injuries, Exposures, and Driving Accidents

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As the Chief Safety Officer for Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R), my main focus is fire fighter safety.  If I had to distill my job description into one sentence it would be; “Work to enhance fire fighter safety by looking at what PF&R does, how we do it and finding areas where we can improve.”  There are three areas we review on a monthly basis through the Safety Committee.  We look at last month’s employee injuries, reported employee exposures (to diseases or toxic chemicals), and we also take a look at the previous month’s driving accidents.

As Chair of the PF&R Safety Committee, I have seen many types of employee injuries.  The 20 other committee members and I review these injuries and try to find ways to prevent them in the future.  One of the most common injuries is the back injury, and one of the most common causes of these injuries is patient lifting on emergency medical calls. Our fire fighters are often called on to lift patients from the floor or bed and place them on a gurney for transport to the hospital.  We are seeing more bariatric patients than we used to, and the additional weight can cause enormous back strain.  I am currently working on a training program that will emphasize using proper lifting techniques and a team effort when it comes to lifting patients.

Can you imagine the toxic chemicals and airborne and blood borne diseases that fire fighters are exposed to?  Literally thousands of toxic chemicals are stored, transported, and used in processes in Portland on a daily basis.  Remember that at virtually any emergency, PF&R will respond and have an active role in helping mitigate the situation.  Whether it’s a traffic accident, fire in a warehouse, or a simple emergency medical call, we always respond and will be right in the middle of things helping out.  Consequently we see quite a variety of exposures.  Our occupational health nurse, Janet Woodside, works diligently to provide immunizations and document exposures for our fire fighters. The Safety Committee tries to spot trends and make recommendations to limit our exposure to harm.

Driving a car around downtown Portland can be a challenge.  Can you imagine driving a 55 foot long ladder truck through the maze of one-way streets and lightrail tracks?  It takes training, diligence, and team effort to safely get from point A to point B on an emergency response.  Occasionally, accidents happen, but considering our constant presence on the streets of Stumptown, they are amazingly rare.  Our Driver Instructor Paul Komanecky is a big reason we have a great safety record behind the wheel.  He trains newly hired drivers, and makes sure that seasoned veterans keep frosty on their driving skills. 

Nationally, fire fighters have an amazing safety record while responding in their vehicles to emergencies.  Consider the following from one of PF&R's Fire Investigators:

  • The nation’s 1.1 million fire fighters respond at the rate of 3 responses every 4 seconds.
  • That’s a total of nearly 24 million responses a year.
  • Nationally, there were nearly 16,000 collisions in 2005 involving fire department emergency vehicles responding to, or returning from emergencies.
  • I did the math and it equals a mere .07% of all responses result in an accident.

That figure is a testament to the power of training, preparation, and due diligence when on the road. Keep up the good work drivers!  And for those of you driving your personal vehicles on the streets of our City, yield right of way to fire vehicles that have their lights and siren on, pull to the right side of the road if possible and stop, and stay back at least a block from responding vehicles. 

December 29, 2009