Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

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

More Contact Info

Subscribe to RSS feed

Most Recent

View Less

PF&R Blog header image

NEW WEB FEATURE: read all of our news releases as they go out here:

Receive more info at our Facebook page here:

 Read our Past Blogs | Disclaimer


Portland Burn Survivors Host a Night Out, All Invited to Attend

6 Comments | Add a Comment


What: Portland Burn Survivors Night Out

When: Thursday, October 13, 2011 from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Where: Plan B Bar, 1305 SE 8th Avenue, Portland, Oregon

Who: All are Invited!

In honor of Fire Prevention Week, the Portland Burn Survivors, Inc. are hosting a night out at Plan B Bar to raise money to send burns survivors to the World Burn Conference in 2012. The conference gathers over 1,000 people yearly to support and encourage burn survivors.

The Night Out activities will begin at 7:00 pm at Plan B Bar in SE Portland. The fun will include live music with local pianist Ali Ipolito and DJ James Anthony, appetizers, and a raffle and silent auction that features items such as an overnight golf package for two at Wild Horse Casino, backpacks from Columbia, eight massage certificates, jewelry from Six Pence Antiques in Lake Oswego, cold weather coat from Sellwood Dog Supply, antiques from Marble Road Estates, framed landscapes and photographs from local artists, handmade quilt and doll house and haircuts from Bishop’s Salon.

More About Portland Burn Survivors, Inc.

Portland Burn Survivors, Inc is a Not-For-Profit Corporation devoted to helping Burn Survivors lead happy rewarding lives. Learn more online at

 Portland Fire & Rescue

 We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

 October 13, 2011


Follow Portland Fire & Rescue on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

PF&R In The News: Alarming increase in suicides has Portland's first responders calling for help

4 Comments | Add a Comment

Portland Fire & Rescue - IN THE NEWS

The Oregonian

October 12 & 13, 2010

By: Maxine Bernstein


Alarming increase in suicides has Portland's first responders calling for help

A man jumped to his death from the 15th floor ofPortland's Marriott Downtown Waterfront hotel Sept. 5, five minutes after he checked in.

Five days later, a Portland man leaped from the St. Johns Bridge. The next day, police and firefighters were called to the Burnside Bridgefor another man who went over the edge. By month's end, a 44-year-old man died after jumping off an overpass onto the eastbound lanes of Interstate 84.

So far this year, Portland police and firefighters have responded to 55 suicides or attempts -- and those are just the cases that play out in public -- up from 39 calls in all of 2010. Portland police have been called to a total of 70 suicides and 144 attempts, up from 69 suicides and 129 attempts last year.

The pace has shaken the city's public safety responders.

"It was like, 'Here we go again," said Paul Corah, Portland Fire Bureau spokesman. "It was day after day. We talked, 'Do we just respond? Do we do anything about it?' We have a problem out here, and it's all preventable."

Thursday, city firefighters and police will stand with families who have lost loved ones to call attention to a growing problem in Oregon. They'll gather at the harbor wall at Portland's Waterfront Park, where a 48-year-old Eugene woman plunged to her death Sept. 23 when she drove into the Willamette River.

The number of suicides in Oregon-- which has a suicide rate 35 percent higher than the national average -- keeps climbing. According to the state's violent death report, there were 566 suicides in 2008, 641 in 2009 and preliminary figures show 670 in 2010.  The number of calls to Oregon Partnership's Suicide Lifeline has risen from 11,303 in 2008 to 19,016 in 2010.

"Oregon's rate has been consistently higher than the rest of the country," said Katrina Hedberg state epidemiologist. "We do not have adequate resources to address the problem."

Horrifying call

Marcy and Steve Wambach got a horrifying call about 8 a.m. in April last year from their son's girlfriend: Tony had tried to kill himself, and he had been found hanging on the back deck of the Portland house he rented. Tony Wambach, 27, died at a hospital two days later, on April 3, 2010.

Marcy Wambach said her first thoughts were: "What do you do next? How do you go on?

Thanks to a Survivors of Suicide support group, Wambach learned she wasn't alone. Six or seven people were at her first meeting. "I remember thinking there's a woman who's been coming here five years. So you do live on. You do figure out how to put it back together," she said.

Her husband was angry at his son, wanted to know every detail and yearned to figure out why he had taken his life. Marcy Wambach refused to even drive by the house where her son hanged himself. "I felt like knowing didn't matter because it didn't change it," she said.

The parents suspect a relationship breakup contributed to their son's suicide. He also had struggled with alcohol and crack cocaine use, and had lost his job as a salesman for a cell phone service.

His memorial service at Lincoln Memorial on Mt. Scott drew a large crowd.

"You sit there and think, there's 300 people here he could have called, but he didn't. One phone call," she said.

A handful of friends told her at the memorial they knew her son was hurting. "There were three or four people who said, 'I wish I would have reached out, and I won't make that mistake again.' "

That's her message to those who know someone in distress: "Don't wait, reach out."

To press forward, the Milwaukie couple bought a nearby house and leased it to Oxford House, which provides housing to former addicts to help them stay clean and sober. Their son had been successful at other Oxford Houses in Portland.

We wanted to do something to commemorate him," Marcy Wambach said.

Today, she will join public safety officials. "I really would like people to know there are places you can call," she said. "You don't have to go it alone." 

Depression a factor

State officials who track suicides aren't sure what's driving Oregon's rate. "People have said everything from 'look outside – it's gray' to our unemployment rate is higher than the rest of the country," Hedberg said.

Depression is the largest risk factor. While people usually can manage depression or other mental illness, stress can overwhelm them, experts say.

"Families are under increased financial, employment, housing or global stressors. Even while people may have access to treatment, there are stressors that are causing ongoing instability," said David Hidalgo, interim director for Multnomah County's Mental Health and Addiction Services Division.

Since 2008, Portland police have been forwarding reports on suicide attempts to the county to ensure the person involved gets care.

While 70 percent of people who killed themselves in Oregon from 2000 to 2006 had a diagnosed mental disorder, alcohol or drug problem, less than a third of men and half of women were receiving treatment when they died. Just over a quarter of suicides involved veterans returning from combat.

The state has issued grants to counties to train adults and youths in suicide intervention skills, support public awareness campaigns and outreach to at-risk populations, such as elderly and youth. Multnomah County got a 2009 grant to train 207 health educators, police, youth, and school resource officers on youth suicide prevention, and a 2010 grant to increase awareness in the Latino community. This month, 15 billboards are up in Multnomah County, broadcasting its 24-hour crisis line phone number.

"The most important thing people can do in our community is to listen to somebody in distress, and alert others if there's concern," Hidalgo said. 

Threatening to jump

Fire Battalion Chief Todd Keathley worked as a captain for four years at Station 24 off North Interstate Avenue and Going Street, part of a crew often the first to respond to people threatening to jump from the Fremont Bridge.

One call sticks in his memory a decade later.

Police had pulled a man in his late 20s or early 30s off the bridge railing. Days later he was back, threatening to jump. He wanted no contact with police.

So Keathley talked to him, trying to build a rapport. The young man said he hadn't been taking his medication. His wife left him and took their son.

Keathley said he was a father, too, and tried to get the man to think about his son. He urged him not to make a rash decision when he wasn't on his meds.

Keathley thought he'd made progress. The man let him get closer and assured Keathley he was going to climb back over the railing.

"He handed me his backpack. Then he put his hand in mine," Keathley recalled. "He shook my hand and said, 'Thank you.' Then he turned and jumped."

Giving back

Tracy Reilly was in her late 20s when her mother, Dorothy Hill, who was bipolar and suffered from depression, went missing in late January 1990. After three days, her car was found beside the Willamette River in Charbonneau. Her mother had walked into the water and drowned.

Reilly struggled with "deep sadness and loss and pain."

There was also a great sense of shame. Reilly got no counseling. "Everyone just tried to forge on ahead," she said. "You shouldn't have to feel shame when you're grieving."

In August 2010, Reilly volunteered to work the Oregon Partnership's suicide line. "It was some way I could give back and honor my mom at the same time," she said.

Recently when a woman called, Reilly told the caller about her mother, and how her death affected her. "She said, 'Well it's given me something to think about.'"

 Portland Fire & Rescue

 We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

 October 13, 2011


Follow Portland Fire & Rescue on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

Fire Prevention Week 2011: Smoke Alarms Save Lives

3 Comments | Add a Comment



65% of home fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms at all or no smoke alarms that work.  When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out. 

Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. Having a working smoke alarm cuts the chances of dying in a reported fire in half. Smoke alarms save lives. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.

Smoke alarms are the single most important item to help you survive a fire. While fire doesn’t have to happen, when it does, early warning is imperative for escape. The smoke alarm laws in Oregon have become more complicated in recent years. Here are the facts to help sort it out and make your life safer.

In January of 1998, Oregon law changed for smoke alarms. Where we once asked citizens to change their smoke alarm batteries each time they changed their clock, the advent of the 10 year lithium battery has changed all that.

ANY smoke alarm that has reached the age of 10 years has lost much of its reliability and should be replaced. The replacement must be an Oregon legal smoke alarm in one of three configurations:

  • Ionization Type that contains a long life lithium battery and a hush feature
  • Photoelectric Type that contains a conventional 9-volt battery (no hush feature required)
  • Either Type of smoke alarm can be hard-wired into the electrical system so no battery is needed (a conventional back-up battery alone may be included and Ionization still need the hush feature)
  • A combination Ionization/Photoelectric smoke alarm may also be available, combining the best qualities of each alarm.

Never change the battery in a new technology smoke alarm. The battery will be good but the alarm unit itself simply does not work reliably for longer than the 10 year life span (dust build up in the sensing chamber, reductions in effectiveness of radioactive elements in ionization types, and failure of electronic components). Smoke Alarms using lithium batteries are not under warrantee when the battery is replaced.

The Ionization smoke alarms also have a hush feature. This is a button that silences the alarm when nuisance smoke or shower steam accidentally set it off. By pushing the button, it will silence the device for up to 15 minutes before it resets itself. Taking the battery out to silence the alarm is no longer needed!

None of these features reduce the need to test every smoke alarm every month. There is no guaranteed lifespan for a lithium battery so you may only know its dead when the test does not sound the alarm. Also, the new alarms have the date recorded on the back so its age can be tracked.

Safety Tips

  • Install smoke alarms in every bedroom, outside each separate sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement. Interconnect all smoke alarms throughout the home. When one sounds, they all sound.
  • Carbon monoxide alarms are not a substitute for smoke alarms.
  • An ionization smoke alarm is generally more responsive to flaming fires, and a photoelectric smoke alarm is generally more responsive to smoldering fires. For the best protection, both types of alarms or a combination alarm (photoelectric and ionization) should be installed in homes.
  • Test alarms at least monthly by pushing the test button.
  • Place smoke alarms on ceilings. Smoke rises: the higher up the alarm is, the sooner it will warn you of smoke. Avoid the space within 12 inches of a wall (if on the ceiling). If wall mounted, the top must be at least 4 inches below the ceiling and the bottom not more than 12 inches below the ceiling.
  • Replace batteries in all smoke alarms at least once a year. If an alarm “chirps”, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • Replace all smoke alarms, including alarms that use 10-year batteries and hard-wired alarms, when they are 10 year old or sooner if they do not respond properly.
  • Be sure the smoke alarm has the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Alarms that are hard-wired (and include battery backup) must be installed by a qualified electrician.
  • If cooking fumes or steam sets off nuisance alarms, replace the alarm with an alarm that has a "hush" button. A "hush" button will reduce the alarm’s sensitivity for a short period of time.
  • An ionization alarm with a hush button or a photoelectric alarm should be used if the alarm is within 20 feet of a cooking appliance.
  • Smoke alarms that include a recordable voice announcement in addition to the usual alarm sound, may be helpful in waking children through the use of a familiar voice.
  • Smoke alarms are available for people who are deaf or hard of hearing . These devices use strobe lights. Vibration devices can be added to these alarms
  • Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan.
  • If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm near the ceiling's highest point.
  • Don't install smoke alarms near windows, doors, or ducts where drafts might interfere with their operation.
  • Never paint smoke alarms. Paint, stickers, or other decorations could keep the alarms from working.

Smoke alarms continue to provide the most important protection against death in a fire. Most fires occur in the home and the greatest risk is present when you are asleep. Protect yourself and your loved ones by ensuring your smoke alarms are up to-date, working, and placed properly.

For additional Smoke Alarm information or if would you like to inquire about Portland Fire & Rescue’s Smoke Alarm Program, contact the Public Education Office at (503) 823-3700.

 Portland Fire & Rescue

 We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

 October 13, 2011


Follow Portland Fire & Rescue on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

NEWS RELEASE 10/13/11: Portland Fire & Rescue Responding to Dive Operation Near the Interstate 205 Bridge

3 Comments | Add a Comment


October 13, 2011

1:03 PM

At 10:19 am, Portland Firefighters were dispatched to reports of a male who left behind a black backpack and jumped off the Interstate 205 bridge from the southbound lanes on the north end of the bridge - the bridge's highest point. The location of the individual's backpack was critical to first responders' efforts to determine exactly where he entered the water to begin searching for him.

Firefighters from Portland Fire (Hayden Island) Station 17 responded with a rescue boat and Portland Fire's dive team was mobilized from Downtown Portland Station 1 to begin a rescue operation. Vancouver Fire and the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office also responded to assist in the joint dive operation. A dive operation is in progress and updates will be released as they become available.

This call came in just 11 minutes before Portland Fire & Rescue, Portland Police Bureau, and the Oregon Partnership began a joint news briefing to bring awareness to the growing issue of suicide in our community. Oregon's suicide rate is 35% higher than the national average. Portland Fire & Rescue urges citizens to call the Oregon Partnership's Suicide Lifeline at 800-273-8255 for immediate mental health and suicide crisis intervention from their team of trained crisis workers if you, a friend, or a loved one is having thoughts of suicide.

 Portland Fire & Rescue

 We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

 October 13, 2011


Follow Portland Fire & Rescue on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

PF&R Appoints Newest Division Chief, Deputy Chief, Battalion Chief, Captain and Harbor Pilot

2 Comments | Add a Comment


Battalion Chief Buckner, Harbor Pilot Mount, Captain Espinosa, Deputy Chief Bray and Division Chief Eisner

This morning, Glen Eisner, Duane Bray, Dan Buckner, Greg Espinosa, and Sage Mount were sworn-in during a ceremony in the City of Portland Council Chambers.  In attendance were Operations Chief John Nohr, Fire Marshal Erin Janssens, other Fire Bureau personnel and family.

Chief Eisner is sworn-in

Glen Eisner is Portland Fire & Rescue’s (PF&R) newest Division Chief.  Eisner began his career at Portland Fire in 1976. For the past 34 years, he has risen through the ranks at PF&R as a Firefighter, Lieutenant, Captain, Battalion Chief, and has served over five years as a Deputy Chief. In 2010, Eisner was awarded “Firefighter of the Year” by the American Legion, Post No. 1. 

Chief Bray (left) is congratulated by Operations Division Chief John Nohr

Duane Bray is now one of three Deputy Chiefs that plans, organizes, integrates, and directs the activities of one of three shifts in PF&R’s Emergency Operations Division. Hired in 1982, Bray brings experience to his new position as a fire lieutenant, captain, and battalion chief. Most recently, Bray served as PF&R’s Safety Chief, responsible for fostering a safe and accident-free workplace.

Chief Buckner is sworn-in

After close to 17 years of service here at Portland Fire, Dan Buckner was awarded the rank of Battalion Chief. Under the direction of a deputy fire chief, a battalion chief has command responsibility for all fire, rescue, and emergency medical service activities within one of the four battalions (specific geographic regions) within the City of Portland. Previously, Buckner served as Station 1’s Captain. 


Captain Greg Espinosa (Left) shakes Operations Chief John Nohr's hand after being sworn-in

Greg Espinosa has worked at fire stations across the City of Portland for close to 17 years and is currently stationed in the downtown area. Espinosa is a dive team member as well as one of Portland Fire’s Peer Fitness Trainers. As a Station Captain, Espinosa will be the administrative officer and in direct command over firefighting personnel at an assigned station. 

Harbor Pilot Mount is sworn in as his family watches proudly from the audience.

Sage Mount was hired at Portland Fire in 1998.  To become a Harbor Pilot, Mount worked diligently to become a Certified Fire Boat Pilot on all Fire Bureau Vessels. Mount know has considerable knowledge of methods and devices used in navigating and piloting a boat as well as harbor regulations, federal, and other laws and regulations affecting boat operation and navigation.

Congratulations to Division Chief Eisner, Deputy Chief Bray, Battalion Chief Buckner, Captain Espinosa and Harbor Pilot Mount on their appointments!

 Portland Fire & Rescue

 We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

 October 13, 2011


Follow Portland Fire & Rescue on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube