News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Local fire agencies benefit from state grants

Virtually every local fire agency is heading into fire season with a bit of extra muscle, courtesy of a pair of state grants.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal has awarded $6 million in grants to 185 agencies throughout the state to spend up to $35,000 to add staffers for wildfire season. This is the second year of the grant program, which is paid for by funds from Senate Bill 762, the 2021 legislation that was designed to serve as a comprehensive wildfire preparedness and resiliency bill amid the fires that have plagued the state, including the Labor Day 2020 blazes that affected huge swathes of the Santiam Canyon. The program led to 400 hires a year ago.

The Gates Fire Hall is headquarters for one of many local agencies that received a grant supporting summer hires for wildfire season. James Day
The Gates Fire Hall is headquarters for one of many local agencies that received a grant supporting summer hires for wildfire season. James Day

Earning grants were the Gates Rural Fire Protection District, the Idanha-Detroit Rural Fire Protection District, the Lyons Rural Fire Protection District, the Monitor Rural Fire Protection District, the Mt. Angel Fire District, the Scio Rural Fire Protection District, the Silverton Fire District, the Stayton Fire District, and the Sublimity Fire District.

“This grant is a beacon of hope for fire districts like ours, burdened by limited funding,” Mt. Angel Fire Chief Jim Trierweiler said. “It provides a lifeline, empowering us to overcome financial constraints and a shortage of volunteers. With this invaluable support, we can expand our team with skilled individuals, fortifying our mission to serve and protect our community this fire season.”

A second grant program allocated $13.5 million to state fire agencies to help them increase capacity by hiring full-time firefighters and prevention staff. A total of 33 agencies received grants, allowing them to add 53 employees. The grant program focuses on small- to medium-sized agencies.

Silverton Fire District was the lone local agency to receive a grant. Ed Grambusch, assistant fire chief, said the district applied for three slots but was happy to receive the one employee grant.

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