Press Release January 17, 2013

For Immediate Release: January 17, 2013

JACKSON COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT 3 IMPROVEMENTS…JUST IN TIME

Over the last year, Jackson County Fire District 3 has made significant improvements in emergency response in the rural communities they serve. In response to a gradual decline in volunteer firefighter activity in the four volunteer stations, the District hosted a focused strategic planning process in 2011. Goals were developed to establish strong leadership in the rural community and to increase the number of resident volunteers. These improvements were projected to develop faster and more reliable response for the communities of Gold Hill, Sams Valley, Dodge Bridge, and Agate Lake.

Battalion Chief Brandon Mitchell was hired from Henry County Georgia to lead the charge from a new office at the Gold  Hill Fire Station. His responsibilities include meeting the response targets in the communities of Gold Hill, Sams Valley, Dodge Bridge, and Agate Lake; as a pilot program, the District focused on the Gold Hill station. The average response time for the City of Gold Hill was reduced from 12:14 minutes in 2011 to 7:06 minutes in 2012. Chief Mitchell has focused on recruiting volunteers and is making improvements to the facilities to provide for more full time resident opportunities at Agate Lake, Sams Valley, and Dodge Bridge. The District expects to have the same affect in those communities as experienced in Gold Hill. In addition to fully trained volunteer firefighters, the District has established several levels where people can volunteer to help their community. The District is looking for water tender drivers, wildland firefighters, incident support personnel, emergency medical technicians, and fire prevention volunteers.

These improvements cannot come at a more opportune time. The Insurance Services Office (ISO), a private for-profit corporation, evaluates the structure fire suppression capabilities in communities across the country. In a recent review of the District, the ISO has preliminarily determined that the Dodge Bridge and Sams Valley fire stations do not meet the minimum requirements for recognition by fire insurance companies. The ISO has also proposed a reduction of the public protection classification by one level in the area of the District that does not have fire hydrant water supply systems.

The District is working closely with the ISO to demonstrate that our strategic plan is working in those communities. The preliminary evaluation gives the District six months to show the same improvement in Dodge Bridge and Sams Valley that Gold Hill has experienced. The District is also reviewing the report produced by the ISO for both miscalculations in their grading and other opportunities for improvements.

Please contact Fire District 3 at 541-826-7100 if you have questions regarding this situation or if you would like to become a volunteer with the District.

Don Hickman, Public Information Officer