While high-ranking staff with Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue have become regular attendees at Newberg City Council meetings as the city weighs annexation, Fire Chief Mike Duyck gave the council what is a periodic update for other cities in the district last week.
The "State of the District" presentation included a data breakdown detailing the incidents TVF&R responded to in the first six months of 2017 as well as the benefits the regional fire department has passed on to Newberg more than half way through the two-year contract.
The latter category includes boosting staff from two personnel per fire engine under the Newberg Fire Department (NFD) to four under TVF&R as of June 1, Duyck touted in his presentation.
"Since June 1 – when we up-staffed both Station 20 and 21 to constant staffing of four on the engine or the truck and two on the medic, and the battalion chief that's stationed here on a 24-hour basis – we've seen some great outcomes …," Duyck said. "Fast and effective response is something that our communities always told us they want and it's what we're able to achieve with this staffing."
Although the annexation process has been controversial at times – primarily due to some residents' concerns about city taxes and public input rather than issues with TVF&R's performance – that controversy seemed to be absent as Duyck gave his presentation.
Councilors only asked about fiber optic connections and Duyck's background – he lived in Newberg for about seven years and worked as a volunteer with the NFD.
"I'm glad to call you a son of Newberg," Council President Stephen McKinney told Duyck during the meeting.
TVF&R recorded 1,423 calls in Newberg from Jan. 1 through June 30. While both NFD and TVF&R recorded a combined total of 5,113 calls in 2016 – fire and rescue services changed hands midway through that year – TVF&R Public Affairs Chief Cassandra Ulven noted that the data is difficult to compare to 2017 because Newberg did not break down and categorize its data as finely as TVF&R, especially with inter-facility patient transfers.
About 86 percent of those 1,423 calls in 2017 were dispatched as medical calls, although only about 77 percent or 1,101 were actually found as such.
Duyck said 86 percent is high compared to the district-wide figure of 68 percent, but he said it is likely higher due to Newberg having a relatively older population.
Although 108 calls came in as fires or explosions in the Newberg area during first half of the year, only 24 were found to be actual fires. Seven of those were structure fires and all affected residences rather than commercial properties.
Duyck said 91 percent of the calls got a response from Newberg's two fire stations and hit the district's benchmark, noting that below 90 percent would indicate a need to add more units to a station based on national standards.
In addition to explaining recent data, Duyck also pointed to other district-wide initiatives on the horizon, including expanding TVF&R's pilot Verified First Responders Program.
The program currently puts automated external defibrillators (AEDs) into the hands of firefighters to carry with them while off duty, allowing them to respond to nearby incidents of cardiac arrest on personal time using a phone app. The expansion would give AEDs to other trained professionals like police officers, nurses, doctors and staff from nearby fire departments.
"That's really going to make a huge difference when it comes to saving lives and we're just really honored to be the test pilot for the nation for this program," Duyck said.
He also announced some upcoming events, including a fundraising event for the Toy & Joy program Sept. 10 at Chehalem Glenn Golf Course as well as a career day Oct. 14 at its training facility in Sherwood that he hoped would fill what he said was a deficiency of volunteers across the district.