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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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Back Seat Driving in a Tiller Truck Proves More Difficult than it Looks

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Click on video above to watch Amy Frazier from KOIN Local 6 go behind the wheel of a tiller fire truck with Portland Firefighter and Assistant Public Information Officer Tommy Schroeder and get a lesson and tips from Station 7 Firefighter Kurt Stevens

Video above courtesy of KOIN Local 6

Portland, especially the downtown area and inner-east side, is filled with narrow streets, made even narrower by parked cars. Getting around in a normal sized vehicle can often be difficult especially during peak commute times.

Firefighters have to navigate these busy streets while maneuvering a 55-foot long truck that weighs over 30 tons, while rushing to an emergency. This can be quite a challenge. However, many stations, especially in the densely built downtown area, are equipped with tiller trucks to help them reach emergencies more quickly.

A tiller truck is a truck specifically designed for making tight corners, especially in the city. Picture a tractor-trailer rig with someone steering the trailer, as well as the tractor.  It has two different steering wheels for the front and back tires. This allows the drivers to take sharper corners and navigate tight city streets. Many cities including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Baltimore, Seattle, Washington, DC and Philadelphia rely heavily on this type of apparatus.

Portland Fire and Rescue has six tiller trucks in service. The tiller trucks are located at Stations 3, 4, 7, 13, 22 and 25.

Driving a tiller truck is exactly opposite of what you would do while driving a typical vehicle.  For every turn the driver makes, the tiller driver makes the exact one just in the opposite direction. Sound confusing? It is. But firefighters who have driven for a while could probably do it in their sleep.

Tiller trucks are equipped with safety features that prevent the engine from starting until the tiller driver has his foot on a pedal. In the tiller driver’s cab there are no gas or brake pedals, there is simply one pedal for the start and one to use as a signal in case the radio head sets are not working.

Every truck and engine in the city is equipped with radio head sets, one for each crew member. Headsets allow the crew to hear each other over the loud motor and discuss the upcoming incident and tactics they will use. The radio correspondence from dispatch can also be heard through these headsets. This helps keep the tiller driver, who is 55 feet behind the rest of the crew, informed and in communication with the driver and rest of the crew.

If you approach or are approached by an emergency vehicle or apparatus such as a tiller truck, PF&R reminds you to remain calm, slow your speed, pull to the right as far as possible, and STOP.  Also, please stay at least 500 feet behind emergency vehicles.

Tiller trucks are a unique type of apparatus that allows Portland Fire to respond to calls in the fastest manner possible. It’s just another way Portland Fire is always ready, always there!


   Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   October 11, 2011 


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Fire Prevention Week 2011: In a Fire, SECONDS COUNT! Create & Practice a Home Fire Escape Plan

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Between 2005 and 2009, there were an estimated 373,000 reported home fires and 2,650 associated civilian deaths inOregon. Fire can spread quickly through your home, leaving you little time to escape safely once the alarm sounds. Your ability to get out depends on advance warning from smoke alarms and advance planning — a home fire escape plan that everyone in your family is familiar with and has practiced.

Be Proactive

  • Draw a home escape plan and discuss it with everyone in your home. Start by drawing a map of each level of your home.  Show all windows and doors.  Click here for a HOME FIRE ESCAPE CHECKLIST from the National Fire Protection Association.
  • Practice the plan at night and during the day with everyone in your home, twice a year.
  • Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily.
  • Have an outside meeting place a safe distance away from the home where everyone should meet. This could be something permanent like a tree, light pole, or mailbox.
  • Practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them. 
  • Make sure everyone in your household knows how to call 9-1-1.
  • Make sure you can open all doors and windows easily.  Security barts should be equipped with quick-release devices.  Furniture and other objects should not block your exits.

Portland Fire & Rescue’s Deputy Chief Jeff Bancroft encourages families to use the home fire escape checklist to make sure your escape plan includes all the elements needed to ensure your household’s safety from fire. Chief Bancroft also reminds families to, “Know two ways out of every room, and two ways out of your home.”

React Quickly

  • If the smoke alarm sounds, immediately get out and stay out. Do not go back inside.
  • If you have to escape through smoke, get low close to the floor and go under the smoke to your way out.
  • Feel the knob and door before opening a door.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave.
  • Call the 9-1-1 from outside your home.

Family Members with Limited Mobility

  • Have a plan for everyone in your home who has a disability or would need assistance in escaping.  Develop and escape plan based around you and your family's abilities and practice it to make sure you can do it. Teach everyone in your household (and your neighbors) about assistance you or others may need.
  • If possible, those with limited mobility should have bedrooms on the first floor of your home so they can escape faster during an emergency.

Remember, the best step to take is to prevent fires from occurring. Knowing what to do should fire occur is very important. More important still is the prevention of a fire. Take the time to inspect your home for possible safety hazards. Fire prevention is something the entire family may participate in. Encourage children to assist with checking the home for hazards. By taking the time to carefully inspect your home for possible hazards, you may prevent a major catastrophe later on.

If you would like assistance with designing a home escape plan, contact Portland Fire & Rescue’s Public Education Office at (503) 823-3700.


   Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   October 12, 2011 


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For a 2nd Year in a Row, Firefighters Go Red for Healthy Hearts

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Fire Inspector Tom Hurley, Firefighter/Assistant Public Information Officer Tommy Schroeder, Station 13 Captain Rob Hutchens, and Station 3 Firefighter Roi Gershom  

Dozens of vendors and upwards of 1,000 women filled the Convention Center in downtownPortlandtoday for an annual inspirational and educational fundraising luncheon. The Go Red For Women Luncheon, sponsored by the American Heart Association (AHA), set out to empower and educate women to promote cardiovascular health. The women attendees received free health screenings and participated in educational breakout sessions during the morning before enjoying a heart-healthy lunch.

Off-duty Portland Fire & Rescue firefighters wearing their Class A uniforms were there to greet luncheon attendees, collect donations for the AHA, and hand out gift bags at the conclusion of the event.

Funds raised at the Luncheon will help support local research, advocacy, community education, and outreach efforts inOregonandSouthwest Washington.

What is the Go Red for Women Initiative?

Cardiovascular disease has claimed the lives of nearly 500,000 women in theUnited Stateseach year. In order to raise awareness of heart disease as the number one killer of women, the AHA created Go Red For Women – an initiative designed to empower women to take charge of their heart health.

Heart Healthy At Any Age

The AHA reminds everyone that heart disease can affect you at any age and it’s important to start heart-healthy habits right now. Click here or visit to get targeted health advice including prevention tips, ways to eat well, staying active, and how to watch your weight if you’re in your 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s.


   Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   October 12, 2011 


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Firefighters Get Cookin' at 2nd Annual Chili Cook-Off

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Crockpots bubbled with fresh chili while firefighters and staff of PortlandFire & Rescue excitedly filled the apparatus bay of Station 23 this afternoon during lunch for the 2nd Annual Fire Marshal’s Office (FMO) Chili Cook-Off. The goals of the chili cook-off were simple - to gather employees, encourage camaraderie and interaction, share recipes, enjoy great food, and donate proceeds raised to a chosen charity.

With cups and spoons in hand, all were encouraged to taste each of the chili masterpieces prepared by members of the FMO and vote using dollars and change. PF&R’s FMO, also known as the Prevention Division, is responsible for all fire and life safety related programs and is managed by Fire Marshal Erin Janssens.

The “People’s Choice” winning chili belonged to Firefighter Brian Dundan. Firefighter Dundan received the largest number of cash votes from fellow firefighters and will donate all proceeds raised to the the Children's Cancer Association. 

The “Chef’s Choice” winning chili was created by Fire Inspector Specialist Jeff Herman.  This honor was awarded by Oswaldo Bibiano, Owner and Executive Chef of Portland’s own ‘Autentica’ restaurant after he tasted Fire Inspector Herman’s chili. Herman will receive a $50 gift certificate towards a meal at Autentica.

Great job to all!


   Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   October 12, 2011 


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NEWS RELEASE 10/12/11: Portland Fire & Rescue Extricates a Driver Pinned-In During an Accident Involving 3 Vehicles

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October 12, 2011

10:39 PM

Portland Fire & Rescue responded to reports of a motor vehicle accident at the corner ofSE 141st Ave& Division Street. Truck 7 and a Battalion Chief were the first to arrive and found 3 cars involved. One car was on its side and on top of another vehicle with the drivers side down, pinning it's driver inside.

Firefighters from Truck 7 stabilized the car to prevent it from collapsing during extrication operations. Meanwhile Engine 7 & Engine 31 crew members provided medical care and stood by with charged hose-lines to provide protection for rescuers and the patient from a potential fire hazard. Once the car was stabilized it was methodically dismantled enough to free the patient using a Holmatro Tool, otherwise known as the "Jaws of Life".

Three patients were transported to area hospitals with minor injuries.


  • 911 call received:  20:49
  • First Unit Arrival: 20:53
  • Patient Extricated: 20:57
  • 2 Engines
  • 1 Truck
  • 1 Chief
  • 13 Firefighters


 Portland Fire & Rescue

 We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

 October 13, 2011


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