Colton Fire District gets grant to hire two full-time seasonal workers to boost coverage

The Oregon State Fire Marshal's office recently awarded Colton Rural Fire Protection District #70 a grant for $34,500 to hire two full-time seasonal firefighters who will be available for emergency response during the high-risk fire season.

The full-time staffing runs July 6 through Sept. 30.

"This is a chance to have firefighters in the station without impacting our fire district's budget," Colton Fire Chief Todd Gary said. "It gives us more capabilities to quickly respond to fires and emergency medical calls during the day."

Gary also said the opportunity for full-time firefighters gives the district the ability to cover wildland, vegetation, vehicle and structural fires quickly with the ability to have rigs out of the station and headed on the call within minutes.

PMG PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - Colton Fire District's new full-time firefighter-EMT seasonal hire Abigail Frey.

The state saw the need for the all-volunteer Colton Rural Fire Protection District to have people available to fight the fire while it is still small and before it escalates.

"The faster we are there, the better off we are," Gary said.

The local district used the funding to hire Abigail Frey as a full-time emergency responder. Frey, who grew up in Mount Angel, said she always knew she wanted to go into the medical field. As a senior in high school she was part of the Mount Angel Fire Department's high school program.

It was while learning about firefighting and emergency rescue that she fell in love with the job of first responder and knew it was the career she wanted to pursue. Frey went on to attend Chemeketa's Emergency Services Program and completed her training in fire suppression and courses in the emergency medical services program. She was a student in residence at the Woodburn Fire Department and is still one of their volunteer firefighters. She also spent a year as a volunteer firefighter with Aurora's fire department.

"Growing up in a small town like Mount Angel makes Colton a perfect fit for me," Frey said. "Everyone has been welcoming, and it is a really good work environment."

Frey works eight hours a day Monday through Friday.

"She fits in here well and is doing an awesome job," Gary said.

The second full-time position was hired from within, bringing on a paid rotating crew of Colton volunteer firefighters to fill the eight-hour-per-day position. Chief Gary said these firefighters either own their own businesses or work from home and can take the time off if it is planned ahead.

The second full-time crew is composed of CRFPD firefighters Zach Boots, Chris Cohoon, Mike Decristoforo, Dan Dunn, Dave Hernandez, Tom Judd, Nate Kulland and Jasmine Schneider.

Colton Fire was awarded another grant by the Oregon State Fire Marshal's office. The funding from this grant was used to purchase six iPads that will be assigned to each of the department's emergency apparatus. Gary indicated that having the updated technology available on each rig will assist with electronic charting of patient care, mapping and state data collection.

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