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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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PF&R Busy Over July 4th Weekend with Fire Response and Illegal Fireworks Enforcement

Illegal fireworks inspire dialogue and action

PF&R was especially busy over July 4th weekend with fire response and illegal fireworks enforcement. The new (503) 823-BOOM number took more callers than the earlier non-emergency line alone and improved the Bureau of Emergency Communication's ability to handle emergency 9-1-1 calls.

Portland Fire & Rescue responded to 118 fires over the 4th of July weekend, (ten of which were structure fires) and wrote 84 citations for illegal fireworks use. Most of the fires over the weekend occurred in bark dust, grass and/or bushes. The cause of these fires varied, but the number one source was smokers' carelessness with 59 fires caused by improperly disposed of smoking materials while fireworks caused 33 fires.

Portland Fire & Rescue continued their 4th campaign of Lower the Boom with education using multiple media outlets and enforcement that included citations up to $1000 along with confiscation of illegal fireworks.

"Illegal fireworks are an enormous problem for not only fires and injuries, but they traumatize our veterans with PTSD, cause anxiety for animals, and add pollution, measured in noise, air, and litter," said Portland Fire Chief Erin Janssens. "Portland Fire & Rescue has been taking the lead on restoring safety and peace to our community. I knew from the beginning that this would take time, but I believe together we're making progress."

Chief Janssens added: "What I've heard from most people is that while illegal fireworks are clearly still a problem, we're seeing a reduction, which is a good thing. We need to continue our efforts to educate, expand our ability to take calls in a timely manner, and increase enforcement for people who are choosing to disregard the law and their neighbors."

This year, PF&R staffed a dedicated hotline (503-823-BOOM) with firefighters taking reports of illegal fireworks during peak hours. This additional staffing allowed 9-1-1 dispatchers to focus on calls for actual fires, police, and medical emergencies. The 503-823-BOOM line fielded over 1,000 calls. Dedicated dispatchers were then able to relay to police and nine patrol teams of fire inspectors paired with police officers to respond.

"Having the overflow on 823-BOOM was a life-saver. BOEC staff were able to process the true emergencies throughout the night," said Lisa Turley, Director of the Bureau of Emergency Communications for the City of Portland. "When so many calls come in per hour - and it will be interesting to see those statistics - it doesn't matter how many staff you have on duty, they cannot keep up with demand. Having our people free to concentrate on the calls that only they can handle ensured that emergencies were managed effectively all night long."

The popularity of the new hotline shows how much communities want action when it comes to illegal fireworks in their neighborhoods and the successes of Lower the Boom is helping bit-by-bit to chip away at this problem. Division Chief Merrill Gonterman estimated that up to 20% of the calls to (503) 823-BOOM were from people outside of Portland looking for a way to report fireworks in their area, ranging from as far north as Battleground, to Salem, Washington County, and Gresham.

Outside of the numbers, one of the most significant impacts of the campaign is the dialogue it has opened up about the effects of illegal fireworks in our community. People and groups feel more comfortable sharing their concerns and sometimes outrage, not only about people disregarding the law, but people disrespecting their neighbors. Illegal fireworks are not something someone does quietly in the privacy of their own home. It is not a victimless crime.
Some statistics from the July 4th weekend:

July 3rd: 27 Fires (19 caused by discarded smoking material and 3 caused by fireworks)
July 4th: 50 fires (20 caused by discarded smoking material and 17 caused by fireworks)
July 5th: 41 fires (20 caused by discarded smoking material and 13 caused by fireworks)

Illegal Fireworks
84 citations
Total citation amount: $57,000.00
Total amount of confiscated illegal fireworks: $14,000.00

Portland Fire & Rescue wants to remind everyone to please take special care; we are at the beginning of our summer here in the Portland Metro region and expect the moisture content of fuel loads to become increasingly dry. We want to continue to caution everyone to always dispose of smoking materials properly and that any fireworks that fly into the air or move more than 6' horizontally are illegal in Oregon.

Please visit our website for more safety tips:

Annual Memorial Gathering for Fallen Portland Firefighters Features Additional Event at Lone Fir Cemetery

Marker for first black firefighter to be dedicated

On June 26 at 10 am every year, Portland firefighters gather at the Portland Firefighters Park on West Burnside Street to honor those who have died in the line of duty. The honor guard performs and the commemorative bell is rung 36 times for each life lost. The Campbell Memorial service was established in 1913 to carry forward the memory of Portland's heroic Fire Chief David Campbell. Chief Campbell died in a 1911 building collapse after ordering all firefighters from the burning structure.

On June 26 this year, there will an additional event to highlight the history and sacrifice of firefighters: a memorial at Lone Fir Cemetery at 11:30 am that same day will dedicate commemorative gravemarkers to honor 12 of the 36 Portland firefighters who have died in the line of duty. Lone Fir has a special firefighter's section (block 5 located between SE Morrison and Stark Streets, and between SE 20th and 26th Avenues). This event will also dedicate nine additional gravemarkers placed on firefighter graves with lost or missing markers. Of note is the inclusion for the first time of Gus Waterford, whose grave was discovered by a class of Madison High School students. Waterford, who was born in 1860 and died in 1909, is Portland's first black firefighter. The public is invited to Lone Fir for this special dedication ceremony.

The Firefighter's Section (Block 5) of Lone Fir Cemetery was deeded to Portland Firefighters on November 16, 1862 by property owner Colburn Barrell. Today, Metro oversees this cemetery.

Walking in is preferred to minimize traffic in the cemetery but for those with mobility issues, driving in is an option. Signs will provide direction for those not familiar with the Firefighter's Section. Parking in the Cemetery must remain on the pavement. Parking to the side of the roads typically leaves room for other cars to pass.

PF&R requests your feedback for our strategic planning process

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) has kicked off its next five-year strategic planning process and we can use your help.

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) has kicked off its next five-year strategic planning process and we can use your help.

Part of our process includes an online survey to gather input from community members. Results of the survey will help guide our planning process.

Your participation in the anonymous online survey is key to making sure your fire bureau has all the information it needs to make sure we are addressing the desires of folks in our service areas. The survey takes approximately 10 minutes and your contribution is much appreciated.

Additionally, PF&R will be sponsoring three community meetings around town to gather input from the public at large. These meetings will be a drop-in format with some remarks early in the evening. The community meetings will be held:

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

- Drop-in hours 5 pm to 7 pm

- Remarks and Q+A with the Fire Chief at approximately 5:30 pm

PF&R Training Center & Fire Station #2

4800 NE 122nd Ave.

Portland, OR 97220

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

- Drop-in hours 5 pm to 7 pm

- Remarks and Q+A with the Fire Chief at approximately 5:30 pm

Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), Gymnasium

10301 NE Glisan St.

Portland, OR 97220

Thursday, July 9, 2015

- Drop-in hours 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm

- Remarks and Q+A with the Fire Chief at approximately 5:00 pm

PF&R Fire Station #1, Skidmore Conference Room (First floor)

55 SW Ash St.

Portland, OR 97204

 Your input will be extremely valuable as we begin developing this plan for Portland Fire & Rescue’s future. Thank you in advance for your time and contribution to our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan.

Happy 100th Birthday, PF&R Arson Squad

A 100 years ago on May 30th, Portland Fire Marshal Stevens announced the appointment of three fire officers to a new Arson Squad.

A 100 years ago on May 30th, Portland Fire Marshal Stevens announced the appointment of three fire officers to a new Arson Squad. The three-person team was tasked with investigating any and all fires with suspicious circumstances. The first three members of the team were A. Groce (Captain), F.W. Roberts (Captain) and E.J. Treese (Lieutenant). 

The unit, now known as Arson Investigations, has been in continuous operation since then, although tools and techniques have improved. In the 1970s, the Arson Squad members became certified police officers, allowing them to make arrests. In 1992 Investigators brought the first Accelerant Detecting K9 onto the team. Since then the team has had three dogs. Lila, the unit’s current dog, uses her nose to help confirm whether accelerants (flammable liquids) have been used to start fires. 

The unit currently investigates approximately 1,000 fires per year. Today the unit has four field investigators who respond directly to fire scenes to determine the cause of fires. The unit also has two investigators assigned to follow up on arson crimes; this team is made up of one PF&R Investigator and one Portland Police Bureau detective. The unit currently boasts one of the best conviction rates in the country at 25%: the national average is 13%.

Portland Metro Fire Camp for Young Women Sets Dates

Learn what it takes to be a firefighter at Portland Metro Fire Camp for Young Women

The Portland Metro Fire Camp is slated for July 17-19 this year and applications are due by June 19th. Fill out the application here:

May 9, 2015

11 am -12:30 pm

Meeting room of the North Portland Library

512 N. Killingsworth St.

Portland, OR 97217


June 5, 2015

6 - 7 pm

West Wing Classroom at the PF&R Training Center

4800 NE 122nd Ave

Portland, OR 97230