Estacada Fire explores options for standalone service delivery
As they determine their next steps after a proposed merger with Clackamas Fire faltered in the Nov. 3 election, members of Estacada Rural Fire District's Board of Directors will meet with similarly sized fire departments across the state to examine how they run.
During a meeting on Thursday, Nov. 19, Estacada Rural Fire District Board President Matthew Silva proposed that a committee consisting of two board members meet with other fire districts and interview Estacada residents about what they would like to see in their fire department.
"It's pretty obvious to me that the citizens of Estacada want their own fire department," Silva said, suggesting the committee visit "some of these departments that are of equal size to us, and see what we can do to try to achieve in terms of what we're shooting for in terms of service delivery."
The motion was unanimously approved by the Estacada Fire Board, and directors John McAdoo and Ken Oliver volunteered to be part of the committee.
During the Nov. 19 meeting and a work session the previous week, multiple prior volunteers with the district expressed interest in returning.
The proposed merger between Estacada Rural Fire District and Clackamas Fire needed to be approved by voters in both areas to take effect. According to initial election results, 62% of voters in the Estacada Fire District said no to Measure 3-561. In the Clackamas Fire District, 74% said yes to Measure 3-560.
The proposed merger came under scrutiny by some Estacada community members in the aftermath of the Riverside and Dowty Road fires. Critics expressed dissatisfaction with Clackamas Fire's performance during the disaster and the agency's willingness to collaborate with the community.
Estacada Rural Fire District's current contract for service with Clackamas Fire lasts through June 2021. The two agencies first entered into an intergovernmental agreement in 2016.
A continuity of service plan drafted by previous interim Estacada Fire Chief Richard Beaudoin outlined a series of tasks as guidelines for re-establishing standalone fire protection services in Estacada. Items included ending the contract with service with Clackamas Fire; staffing key fire department positions, including a fire chief and administrative manager; staffing additional management and support positions, including a deputy fire chief; recruiting for line positions, including a fire captain/paramedic, fire lieutenant/paramedics, fire engineers/paramedics and firefighters/paramedics; reestablishing training programs; performing an inventory of the district's assets, including apparatuses, facilities, tools, equipment and supplies; evaluating and establishing contracts for service and intergovernmental agreements, including mutual and automatic aid programs and 911 dispatch service with Clackamas County Communications Center (CCOM); and evaluating best alternatives to supplemental staffing, such as a volunteer program, reserve firefighter program, auxiliary program and developing a plan of implementation.
"The timeline is tight. The availability of working capital is questionable," Beaudoin wrote in the report. "A consideration of the ERFD69 Board of Directors may be to seek a six-month extension of the contract for services with CFD1 through Dec. 31, 2021. This will provide a longer timeframe to evaluate delivery models for ERFD69 and extend through November, when tax revenues are received from Clackamas County. This will lessen the impact on the budget and provide some additional working capital for the transition and unforeseen expenditures."
During the Nov. 19 meeting, Silva noted that "the timeframe that we would need to get the fire department back up and up to speed would go away into what we're contracted Clackamas."
Silva, who is on the Estacada and Clackamas interagency committee along with Oliver, asked the board for consensus to ask Clackamas Fire's Board of Directors for a six-month extension of the contract for service.
McAdoo suggested they wait several months to have that discussion with Clackamas.
"I'd like to look at some things that we can delete out of the contract and save some money," he said.
The board gave Silva consensus to discuss the contract at the next interagency committee meeting.
"We're not signing any paperwork. We're just asking them the question," Silva said.
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