Woodburn Fire District receives $600k grant
The Woodburn Fire District received a federal grant for $609,000 to provide resources to recruit new volunteer firefighters and incentivize existing members to remain active as volunteer firefighters for the Woodburn and Hubbard Fire Districts.
Awarded in November, 2018, the SAFER Grant (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) helped provide funding for Woodburn Fire Chief Joe Budge to hire Layne Wilson, a new volunteer fire fighter recruitment and retention coordinator.
The four-year grant allows for Wilson to manage the grant and search for new potential volunteer firefighter recruits, while promoting and managing all existing volunteer firefighter programs including the Paid On-Call Volunteer Program, Student Resident Volunteer Program, and a future Explorer Program.
"This grant will ensure that the Woodburn and Hubbard Fire District are better able to protect the lives and property of the citizens of Woodburn, Gervais, and Hubbard communities by increasing the number of volunteer firefighters that are fully trained and available to respond," Budge said.
The grant is intended to have a regional impact shared between the Woodburn and Hubbard fire districts, which includes community members in Gervais that lie within district boundaries.
The grant runs through November 2022, and requires annual benchmark goals for recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters to be met in order for the grant funds to continue throughout the four-year period.
Budge is excited for the opportunity to expand the fire district's volunteer force, which he said is essential for the Woodburn and Hubbard fire districts to effectively meet their emergency response mission of the community.
"When large incidents or multiple calls for service occur, volunteer firefighters supplement the one fire engine in Woodburn that is staffed 24 hours a day with career firefighters," Budge said. "Large incidents that require multiple response units and overlapping emergency calls for service occur on a daily basis in the Woodburn Fire District."
While the Woodburn Fire District has been served by a core group of volunteer firefighters for more than 30 years, like many districts across the nation, Woodburn and Hubbard have experienced a steady decline in the number of traditional volunteer firefighters that are able to drop what they're doing at a moment's notice to respond to emergency calls, Budge said.
In addition to being on-call for service, volunteer firefighters must also spend hundreds of hours each year acquiring and maintaining emergency response qualifications while meeting the rigorous physical demands of firefighting activities.
The availability of traditional volunteer firefighters in the community is further eroded by a changing employment environment where few local businesses have the luxury of releasing their employees on a daily basis for hours at a time to meet the increasing emergency response needs of the community.
According to Budge, the federal SAFER grant award allows the Woodburn and Hubbard fire districts to cultivate an active and responsive group of volunteer firefighters among those members in the community that are seeking "real-world" experience that will help in attaining a career as a professional firefighter or EMS provider.
The grant will help bolster the Paid On-Call Volunteer Program, which provides an opportunity for those interested in becoming an active volunteer to gain experience in fire service. POCV firefighters receive modest compensation for time spent on emergency calls, weekly skill drills and community service activities.
By the end of 2020, the fire district plans to establish an Explorer Program to be managed in conjunction with the high schools in the Woodburn, Gervais and North Marion School Districts. This program will provide students with the opportunity to gain exposure to fire service and EMS careers and earn college credits toward a fire science or emergency medical technician degree.
For more information on becoming a volunteer firefighter, contact Layne Wilson at 503-989-8272 or by email at: