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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 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

Get to Know Your PF&R Fire Stations: Stations 5, 8, and 22

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Location: 1505 SW DeWitt Street Portland, OR  97239

Built: 1960

Retrofit: 2003

Square Feet: 6,585

Apparatus: Comprised of Engine 5 (advanced life support), Rescue 99, and C1

On-duty Personnel:Includes one paramedic officer and three firefighters

Serving: Bridlemile, Hillsdale, and Hayhurst Neighborhood Associations


Location: 7134 North Maryland Avenue Portland, OR  97217

Built: 1959

Square Feet: 5,758

Apparatus: Comprised of Truck 8 (advanced life support) and Engine 8 (advanced life support).

On-duty Personnel:Includes one company officer, one paramedic officer, and six firefighters

Serving: Arbor Lodge, Kenton, Piedmont, and Sunderland Neighborhood Associations


Location:7205 North Alta Street Portland, OR  97203

Built: 1954

Retrofitted: 2001

Square Feet: 7,270

Apparatus: Comprised of Truck 22 (advanced life support), Engine 22 (advanced life support), Brush Unit 22, Utility Vehicles 22, 2 ATVs, and Rescue Boat 22

On-duty Personnel:Includes two company officers, five firefighters and one firefighter paramedic

Serving:Cathedral Park, St. Johns, and Linnton Neighborhood Associations

Learn more about Portland Fire & Rescue's OTHER 27 fire stations by clicking here!

December 30, 2009

Firehouse Recipe of the Week: Carmel-Pecan Rolls

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Carmel-Pecan Rolls


  • 1 ¼ cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 2-14 ounces frozen bread dough's
  • 3 teaspoons melted butter/margarine
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • Raisins



  1. Mix powdered sugar and whipping cream.
  2. Divide and pour into two 9 ½ round baking pans.
  3. Sprinkle pecans on top.


  1. Roll each loaf of dough into 12 x 8 rectangle.
  2. Brush with melted butter/margarine.
  3. Sprinkle mixture of cinnamon, brown sugar, and raisins on top.
  4. Roll jelly-roll style, sealing ends.
  5. Cut each in 10 to 12 slices and place rolls on top of whipping cream mixture.
  6. Cover with a towel and let rise until nearly double (about 30 minutes) or cover with oiled waxed paper and refrigerate 2 to 24 hours.
  7. If refrigerated, before baking, let stand 20 minutes, then pop any surface bubbles with toothpick.
  8. For un-chilled rolls, bake at 375 degrees for 20 to25 minutes.  For chilled rolls, bake at 375 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

NOTE: You may need to cover the rolls with foil for the last 10 minutes to prevent over baking. Cool in pans set on wire rack for 5 minutes. Invert on serving platter. Serve warm.

December 30, 2009

What's highly dangerous and invisible?

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Carbon Monoxide (CO) Safety
Choosing & Installation of CO Alarms
  • CO alarms should be installed in a central location outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home and in other locations where required by applicable laws, codes or standards. For the best protection, interconnect all CO alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for placement and mounting height.
  • Choose a CO alarm that has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
Stay Aware!
  • Test CO alarms at least once a month; replace them according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • If the audible trouble signal sounds, check for low batteries.
  • If the battery is low, replace it.   
  • If the CO alarm sounds, immediately move to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Make sure everyone inside the home is accounted for. Call for help from a fresh air location and stay there until emergency personnel.
Vehicle Safety
  • If you need to warm a vehicle, remove it from the garage immediately after starting it. Do not run a vehicle or other fueled engine or motor indoors, even if garage doors are open. Make sure the exhaust pipe of a running vehicle is not covered with snow.

Simple Actions Can Save Your Life!

  • During and after a snowstorm, make sure vents for the dryer, furnace, stove, and fireplace are clear of snow build-up.
  • A generator should be used in a well-ventilated location outdoors away from windows, doors and vent openings.
  • Gas or charcoal grills can produce CO — only use outside.


December 31, 2009

Carbon Monoxide Question and Answer

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What is carbon monoxide? 

Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless, colorless gas created when fuels (such as gasoline, wood, charcoal, coal, natural gas, propane, oil, kerosene and methane) burn incompletely. Products and equipment powered by internal combustion engine such as portable generators, cars, lawn mowers, and power washers also produce carbon monoxide.


What are the risk factors of carbon monoxide?

Fumes are dangerous for anyone and can be deadly. Some people are more susceptible to the affects of carbon monoxide including unborn babies, infants, older adults, people who smoke, and people who have chronic heart disease, anemia, or respiratory problems.

Why should my home have carbon monoxide alarms?

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, approximately 2,100 people die from carbon monoxide poisoning every year in the United States. There are also more than 10,000 injuries annually from carbon monoxide. Home heating and cooking equipment that burn fuel are sources of carbon monoxide. Car exhaust (carbon monoxide) in an attached garage can leak into the house even with the main garage door open.

To learn.....

Why carbon monoxide is harmful, the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning, the types of and where to install carbon monoxide alarms, how often to replace carbon monoxide alarms, AND what to do when the carbon monoxide alarm sounds...CLICK HERE!

December 31, 2009