Canby Fire District looks to the future
The Canby Fire District (CFD) released its 2017 strategic plan outlining the department's goals and visions, both near and long term.
"All of our goals have work that need to be done to meet them," Chief Jim Davis said. "We're going to be making a full presentation before the city council so that the community can understand exactly what we need moving forward to increase efficiencies, and also to clearly understand all that we have accomplished."
Emergency services always look to improve response times, and CFD's strategic plan shows the fire department continues to improve.
In 2016, Canby Fire responded to incidents inside the city limits within eight minutes 95 percent of the time, often in about five minutes, an improvement from responding within eight minutes 83 percent of the time during the previous year.
Canby Fire also responded to suburban locations within 12 minutes 97 percent of the time and within 20 minutes to rural locations 92 percent of the time. In fact, most of the time Canby Fire responded more quickly, but eight minutes, 12 minutes and 20 minutes are the target times stated in the strategic plan.
The plan also says that during the last five years, firefighters responded to property fires quickly and efficiently enough that, all combined, property owners faced median losses of $595,000 compared to potential aggregate losses of $25 million in real value. The district's property-loss ratio dropped from 5.6 percent in 2015 to 1.6 percent in 2016.
The strategic plan credits the most recent local option levy for the increased response times. Canby Fire used revenue from the five-year, $4.37 million levy to staff a day ambulance and an EMS daytime officer, as well as the implementation of a tracking and reporting system that can provide detailed feedback in triage accuracy to EMS crews down to the percentage of chest compressions given during CPR that meet the intended rate, depth and recoil when administered.
Additionally, the plan shows CFD is considering relocating Station 65, which stands on Highway 170 near the Four Mile Nursery, to increase its rate of response to medical emergencies on the north side of town, as well as in and around Barlow.
Canby Fire is looking into opening a day-unit EMS medical station on the downtown side of the railroad tracks. The plan says CFD's Board of Directors is considering placing the station on the northwest side of the city near the Canby Police station.
The railroad tracks play a big part in the consideration. Local EMS crews responded to 610 incidents on the north side of the city, and throughout all of those calls Canby Fire was delayed just three times in 2016 by trains coming through Canby.
That year, CFD responded within five to six minutes to calls on Canby's north side, but the barrier to responses created by the railroad tracks always is a concern, Davis said.
Additionally, the strategic plan says Station 65 does not accommodate female firefighters and is not large enough to expand for future staffing needs.
A new station would be large enough to house as many as six volunteers and would be jointly staffed with crews from the Canby Fire District and the Molalla Fire District. Station 65 would be used for apparatus storage and as a training site if a new facility opened.
The improvements in response times contributed to Canby Fire's Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, which affects insurance rates for property owners, increasing it from a class 5 to a Class 2 in areas with fire hydrants, and from a Class 8/10 to a Class 3 in rural areas.
The strategic plan says that in order to maintain these response rates and service levels, a majority of its fire/EMS apparatus and equipment needs to be replaced because they have been in service longer than recommended. The plan also says the district needs to replace its current Squirt engine with a 105-foot ladder truck within the next three years.
Davis said Canby Fire currently does not have the capital to meet those needs, and plans are to present a detailed recommendation to the board of directors on how it can increase operating efficiencies and regional efficiencies through partnerships with the Aurora, Colton and Molalla fire districts, and other regional crews, as well as how to raise new revenue while implementing the best possible management of public resources.
"Our primary goal is to ensure a dependable and secure level of service and sustainability while maintaining the exemplary customer service model that our agency upholds," Davis said.