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Powell Butte resident and Redmond career firefighter joined agency in mid-October

JASON CHANEY - Dave Pickhardt will conduct a review of the department to help cope with district growth.

Ever since Casey Kump resigned nearly two years ago to take a new job away from Prineville, Crook County Fire and Rescue has gone without a deputy chief.

During those two years without a true second in command, Fire Chief Matt Smith has added some new leadership positions — two battalion chiefs and a battalion chief fire marshal position — but he hoped to eventually add another more seasoned leader to the mix.

"We truly needed that senior level experience right now with the growth in Prineville, especially with the data centers," Smith said. "The fire district is trying to grapple with how to provide the appropriate level of service to them and not only give them the service but keep our people safe as we provide the service to them."

Smith added that the district is trying to adequately staff the Juniper Canyon Fire Station while maintaining appropriate staffing at the main Prineville station and Powell Butte station.

To fill the deputy chief vacancy, Smith turned to long-time Powell Butte resident Dave Pickhardt, who spent the past 23 years of his career with Redmond Fire and Rescue. He spent many years as their deputy chief, Smith noted, and most recently served as the department's fire chief.

"CCFR is very excited to add Dave to our team," Smith said. "With his competence and experience, he will immediately be an outstanding asset to the organization."

Pickhardt, who is now 50, stepped into the role on Oct. 15, essentially on the heels of his retirement from the Redmond department. While he was ready to scale back his full-time work schedule, he stresses that he wasn't ready to be done with fire service.

At CCFR, he will work on a part-time basis, filling a role that Smith said was newly budgeted for this current fiscal year.

"This is home for me. I have always been a fan of this organization," Pickhardt said. "I am thrilled to be here. It was an opportunity to do something different."

Smith said that Pickhardt will initially be tasked with reviewing the district's operation, internal communication process and performance management process and will be asked to begin an assessment of future service needs within Prineville's enterprise zone.

"Our deputy chief will help essentially streamline our operations so that we can grow in the future," Smith explained. "To start with, he is going to be doing a review of the district not only from our operational standpoint, but our deployment plan — how we interact with the large industry up on the hill."

Following the review process, CCFR leadership wants to use the information to develop an action plan and then delegate the duties associated with it as it is deemed appropriate.

In addition, Pickhardt will assist with day-to-day operations as needed and may assume command of the fire district in the absence of the fire chief.

Smith encourages people who are interested in meeting Pickhardt to either attend the next CCFR Fire Board meeting or schedule a time to stop by the Prineville fire station.

"He is a great fit for what we needed," Smith said. "We are excited for his contributions to the district."

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