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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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Get to Know Your Neighborhood Firefighter: Battalion Chief Rich Stenhouse

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I currently serve as a Battalion Chief at Portland Fire & Rescue. As a Chief of Battalion 1, I am responsible for managing day to day operations for Stations 3, 4, 5, 10, 15, 16, 18 and 27. You can learn more about the duties and knowledge, skills and abilities required of a Battalion Chief here. I am quartered at the Hillsdale Firehouse (Station 5) that serves NW and SW Portland residents.



I was hired in May 1986. At the completion of training, I was assigned as a travelling firefighter for four years affording me the opportunity to work in all Portlandfire stations. Assignments include the Fire Marshals office as Inspector, Senior Inspector, Fire Investigator, and Chief Investigator. In the Emergency Operations Division, I’ve worked as a Lieutenant, Captain, and present assignment as a Battalion Chief.


In the old days, we didn’t have seatbelts and rode the tailboard of the engine standing up. We wouldn’t even think of doing that today. It was pretty cold riding the tailboard on the freeway in East County especially when it’s below freezing with a stiff east wind.


My memorable calls involve all sorts of mayhem. Most all of our calls for service involve a tragedy of some sort. Having compassion and a sense of empathy for others drives us to provide excellent customer service. We have to ask ourselves “if this was one of our family members, how would we want them treated.”


Everything is better with butter and bacon! I really enjoy a good “dutchbaby” because it’s an easy recipe and looks fabulous too.

Directions: Mix together 4 eggs, 1 cup flour, and 1 cup of milk. Bake 425 degrees until golden brown. Serve with fresh squeezed lemon and top with powdered sugar. MMMgood!


I was taught how to work at the end of a shovel. Dad said “never let me see you leaning on that shovel or I’ll find another one for your other hand.” I worked as a skating rink manager and in the vending and video game business. While studying fire science at PCC, I served as a student firefighter for 75 cents an hour prior to my first paid position as a firefighter in the Willamette Valley.


I believe a successful firefighter must have compassion for others, possess common sense, an excellent work ethic, integrity, and a desire to continue learning your job. Firefighters must have a “can do” attitude.  


My family loves the outdoors. We enjoy spending time with friends on group campouts, boating, and bicycling. In the winter we enjoy downhill skiing and anything snow related.


My first thought on an emergency scene is to evaluate the actions being taken by firefighters to mitigate the emergency. This is a true emergency for the individual calling 9-1-1 and it’s our job as firefighters to make it better and prevent further injury and stop property loss. Personnel accountability of all firefighters is paramount.


Never say “I wish…” Have a reason for making the decision you did and when you make a mistake own it and don’t make the same mistake twice.



   Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   February 15, 2012


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Kung Hei Fat Choy

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Thousands gathered on Saturday for a Chinese New Year Cultural Fair at the Oregon Convention Center. Organized by the Portland Chinese Times and the Portland Art & Cultural Center, the fair featured 20 stage acts and more than 70 vendors.

Portland Fire & Rescue’s own Lieutenants Michael Silva and Joe Troncoso and Firefighter/Assistant Public Information Officer Tommy Schroeder were on hand to take part in the cultural activities.  The firefighters also provided information on fire and life safety and offered giveaway items to adults and kids who stopped by to chat.

January 23rd marked the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year 2012, the Year of the Dragon. One of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, the dragon signifies good fortune and power.


  Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   February 13, 2012 


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NEWS RELEASE 02/14/12: Portland Firefighters Respond to Residential Fire at 7038 N. Vincent Avenue

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February 14, 2012

11:49 AM

At 9:29 am, Portland firefighters were dispatched to reports of heavy gray smoke billowing from the roof of a residence located at7038 N. Vincent Ave.  Firefighters from Portland Fire Station 26 (Portsmouth/University Park) arrived first on scene in just four minutes.  A ladder truck from North Portland and three fire engines also responded. 

Firefighters attacked the fire from the front and back of the home.  In the course of battling this blaze, firefighters determined that the fire had spread from the basement to the first floor, compromising the floor’s structural integrity.  Firefighters were warned that a 4’ x 6’ portion of the first floor was burned through and the entire floor was soft.

"A soft floor indicates possible fire damage from below and a possibility of collapse.  When firefighters find a soft floor, they are trained to back out and determine if the floor is safe before proceeding," said John Nohr Portland Fire Emergency Operations Division Chief.

The amount of contents in the home hampered firefighters’ efforts to contain the blaze.  Truck crews used specialized cutting equipment to cut bars off windows, enabling firefighters to ventilate smoke from the structure.  A search of the structure determined that all occupants escaped the fire safely.

The fire was brought under control at 10:20 am.  Due to the amount of contents in the home, firefighters will remain on scene for some time to ensure that all hot spots are extinguished.  Portland Police Bureau was called to assist firefighters by removing weapons from the home.

The Red Cross has been called to help four adults and four children find alternate housing.  Fire investigators are on scene working to determine the fire’s cause.  Damage is estimated at $50,000.


  Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   February 14, 2012 


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Smell Gas? ACT FAST

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Natural gas related calls, whether for an odor of gas in the area, or an actual release, are a common call for fire agencies across the county. In fact, in 2011, firefighters from Portland Fire & Rescue responded on close to 30 natural gas related calls.

Natural gas is a fossil fuel found naturally underground. Natural gas is mostly comprised of methane, a colorless and odorless gas. Because it is highly flammable and odorless it posses a major safety concern, so an odorant is added that gives off a foul smell. Natural gas is used in both residential and commercial properties. It is used for heating, water heaters, stoves, clothes dryers, fire places, outdoor lighting, and in industrial processes.

Natural gas does have an excellent safety record, but emergencies do occur. Portland Fire & Rescue and NW Natural want citizens to be in the know if you smell gas:  


SMELL – Identify a possible gas leak.

  • Unusual odor or scent (rotten egg or sulfur smell)
  • Unusual hissing sound
  • Blowing dirt


  • Leave the structure or area
  • Don’t start a vehicle in a garage or near any natural gas odor
  • Don’t use any electrical or battery-operated device, such as a light switch, phone, appliance or garage door opener
  • Don’t smoke or use a match or lighter
  • Don’t try to find the leak


If you suspect a natural gas leak or other gas emergency and are unsure of the severity or what to do, evacuate the area immediately and call 9-1-1 from a safe location. Do not use your telephone. This includes cellular phones and all types of portable communication and electronic devices that have a battery. These can spark and create a source of ignition.

Click here to visit NW Natural’s official website and learn about how natural gas works so you can keep yourself, your friends, and your family safe!


  Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   February 12, 2012 


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Fireproofing Your Storage Unit

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There are many uses for renting a Portland self-storage unit. Units can help keep seasonal items, collectibles, big vehicles like boats or RVs, and numerous things while you’re away on a long vacation or college.

More and more people are seeing the benefits of using these facilities, and are taking full advantage of the dozens of locations. However, what should rightly be one of the greatest concerns to anyone who places their valuables into self-storage is often one of the last things that anyone thinks about—that being the possibility of fire. It’s been known to happen before, and despite attempts to prevent it from occurring, it’ll likely happen again in the future.

Fires at self-storage facilities can prove doubly devastating, as this is where many people place some of their most treasured and irreplaceable belongings. Fireproof storage facilities offer you the best chance at preventing this from ever happening to you, but there are even some things you can do protect your stored belongings from fire.

  1. Only do business with a fully secure storage facility. This means not only making sure that there are operating smoke detectors and fire sprinkler systems installed, but also ensure that there’s a security guard on the premises at all times who can call the fire department in the event of the unthinkable.
  2. Keep your valuables in portable fireproof storage containers or safes. While you might not be able to find a fireproof container big enough for your unused sectional couch, you can obtain containers that’ll keep important documents, family photographs, and other small collectibles safe in a fire.
  3. Select a site nearest to a fire station. If you’re unfamiliar with the neighborhood, conduct a Google map search and look for nearby fire stations. Monthly rates will probably be higher for these prime locations, but your belongings will be that much closer to rescue.

It is very important to take these tips seriously. Although,Portlandfirefighters love their job and love helping people, they would agree that you should do all you can to protect your belongings.

This article was written by Matt Schexnayder. Matt is on the SpareFoot marketing team and writes for the SpareFoot blog. SpareFoot is the largest online marketplace for self-storage with more than 5,000 self-storage facilities listed nationwide. SpareFoot offers consumers the most complete comparison shopping experience in the storage industry and has been a big part of the national moving and storage industry for over 3 years.


  Portland Fire & Rescue 

   We Respond: Always Ready, Always There

   February 13, 2012 


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