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Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society

Exploratory Committee
Research Projects
Unique Neighborhoods and Communities
Quality of Fire Protection
Lost Property, Life, Or Personal Injury By Fire
Potential Josephine County-Wide RFPD
Design of Existing Fire Departments In Josephine County
Revenues for Fire Protection
Taxing District for Fire Protection
Boundaries for Fire Protection
Issues:  Challenges of Forming a County-WIde RFPD
Issues: The Details
Issues:  An Informed Public



Brochure 4B of 16 in Rural Fire Protection Brochure Series

June 10, 2008
Exploratory Committee

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Private Fire Departments & Rural Fire Protection Districts (RFPD’s)

Private Fire Departments There are 12 neighbor-hoods identified as communities at risk in the "unprotected area" of Josephine County, Oregon (2004 Josephine County Integrated Fire Plan). While these communities are listed as "unprotected", it is important to note that these neighborhoods are not without fire service. Rural/Metro Fire Department provides contract structural fire protection services throughout the county’s unprotected area (pps. 46-47, JCIFP, Wildfire Risk Assessment) along with two other private corporations that also act as fire departments: Inland Fire Protection Agency and Grants Pass Rural Fire Department.

Public RFPD’s Outside of city limits RFPD’s are formed by voter approval to deliver structural fire protection services. Josephine County has four existing RFPD’s outside cities in the "unprotected area".

1. Applegate RFPD.

2. Illinois Valley RFPD.

3. Williams RFPD.

4. Wolf Creek RFPD

Quality of Fire Protection County citizens are concerned about the quality of structural fire protection service that is available to prevent loss of property, life, or personal injury by fire to both its residents and firefighters.

Lack Of Regulations

A Publicly Funded Fire District had been identified by The Daily Courier as an issue.1 The concerns identified were increases in fire insurance premiums for those with the Grants Pass Rural Fire Department, increases in sub-scription rates charged by Rural/Metro, and inadequate response times.

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Fire Rules3 The Daily Courier reported that "Josephine County and Milton-Freewater in northeastern Oregon are the only communities in the state with fire-fighting services that are not publicly funded. Under the current system, only state laws overseeing business practices, Oregon Department of Transportation regulations and a handful of other rules dictate who can establish fire protection enterprises in the 280 square miles in Josephine County not covered by tax-supported districts.

"The biggest problem we’re up against is a lack of awareness," Commissioner Dave Toler said. "Most people assume there are some regulations for firefighting in place, but there aren’t. As it is, we have no jurisdiction. Pretty much anyone with a pickup truck and a bucket can sell subscriptions."

Fire Issues1-12 The Daily Courier has on several occasions reported communication problems, potential liability problems, safety concerns (i.e., suspension of automatic aid agreement by Grants Pass Department of Public Safety), and the noticeable lack of ability for government to regulate the county’s three private fire departments versus RFPD’s.

Want more information? Contact a member of the Exploratory Committee.

Lost Of Property, Life, Or Personal Injury By Fire

Cost Versus Fire Standards For Property, Life, & Injury Fire impacts in the county, as measured by standards that are of major concern to citizens (i.e., lost of property, life, or personal injury by fire) that are different for private fire departments and RFPD’s, have not yet appeared on the radar of public debate. When compared to cost, do regulation differences for private fire departments and local RFPD’s translate into a different quality of fire protection provided?

Fire impacts could be measured by standards such as Insurance Service Office ratings13, 911 calls not responded to per 1,000, number of homes lost per 1,000 homes burning, fire death rate per million population14, and/or injury to neighbors (i.e., national overall injury rate is three civilian injuries per 100 residential building fires15), or firefighters from fire?

RFPD Exploratory Committee’s Mission

Mission An independent Rural Fire Protection District (RFPD) Exploratory Committee (Exploratory Committee) to investigate the potential for forming a RFPD in the general Merlin-Hugo region was formed in the fall of 2007.

Big picture ideas for the exploratory effort include the following.

1. Identifying a range of boundaries for potential RFPD(s).

2. Identifying a range in level of services from potential RFPD(s).

3. Identifying a range of fees or assessments for services from potential RFPD(s).

4. Identifying revenues for services from potential RFPD(s).

The ultimate goal is a higher level of fire protection service for a lower cost.

The purpose of the Exploratory Committee is to gather information adequate enough to understand the rules/process to form a potential RFPD (i.e., rules, difficulty, pros and cons, levels of service, fees/ assessments, elections, etc.). This includes educational outreach efforts.

The Exploratory Committee’s purpose is limited to investigating and researching the potential (i.e., merits and liabilities) for forming a RFPD. Other potential actions will be considered and acted upon by other entities after the Exploratory Committee’s purpose has ended.

The contents of this brochure are expressions of the opinions and beliefs of those that contribute based on their thoughts and experiences and are not presented for any other purpose.

- Donations Are Not Tax Deductible -

Edited by Exploratory Committee

1. Roler, Dennis. July 5, 2006. Publicly funded fire district is badly needed. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Editor’s Opinion. Grants Pass, OR.

2. Mackin, Harry. No date (2007?) Tax-supported fire district way to go. Guest Opinion. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

3. Stumbo, Stacy. August 3, 2007. Commissioners postpone vote on fire rules. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

4. Stumbo, Stacy. September 12, 2007. Group studying fire protection will meet at 5 p.m. Thursday in courthouse. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

5. Stumbo, Stacy. September 17, 2007. County a step closer to new fire standards. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

6. Stumbo, Stacy. September 20, 2007. Commissioners’ proposed fire protection rules don’t go far enough, some say. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

7. Stumbo, Stacy. September 20, 2007. Ellis will run again. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

8. Stumbo, Stacy. November 7, 2007. Fire district could go to Nov. ‘08 ballot. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

9. Stumbo, Stacy. January 16, 2008. Fire Protection Committee still seeking answers. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

10. Stumbo, Stacy. January 30, 2008. Fire Protection Committee won’t pack it in. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

11. Snyder, Patricia. February 19, 2008. Raffenburg won’t seek re-election. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

12. Snyder, Patricia. February 20, 2008. Disappointing departure. Grants Pass Daily Courier. Grants Pass, OR.

13. RFPD Exploratory Committee. June 2008. Quality Of Fire Protection. Hugo, OR.

14. U.S. Fire Administration. 2008. State Fire Death Rates. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Hugo, OR.

15. U.S. Fire Administration. 2008. Civilian Fire Injuries in Residential Buildings in 2005. Topical Fire Report Series. Volume 8, Issue 3 / March 2008. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Hugo, OR.

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2012 Hugo Neighborhood Association & Historical Society