BEND, OR -- It’s been more than three years since voters in Alfalfa approved the creation of an independent fire district, but the fledgling fire department still has no permanent home. Bend Battalion Chief Dave Howe says his agency helps whenever possible, "We will respond out there to assist them, if they request our assistance in a mutual aid call. For example, a house well involved, they may ask us to come out with a water tender or an engine to help put the fire out. But, it’s a long way from here to Alfalfa." He says it can take 15-20 minutes to get a crew to Alfalfa from Bend. "And, in that time a house can be completely destroyed. It’s going to get bulldozed."
The Alfalfa Fire District began in 2014, following a county vote. Howe tells KBND News they now have a chief and 14 volunteer firefighters. "They have a water tender, which is a water tank truck. And, they respond with that. They only fight fires defensively, that is from the outside of the building. They’re not trained or certified to use Self Contained Breathing Apparatus, yet." Because of those limitations, Howe says Bend crews are still dispatched to life-threatening situations.
But, the district has yet to build a home, "They only have a piece of land; they don’t have an actual station, yet." Howe and others at Bend Fire are helping secure more resources for the rural community, by including Alfalfa in grant requests for things like radios. "It’s fascinating to watch a fire department being built from the ground up."
To hear our full conversation with Battalion Chief Dave Howe, click HERE or visit our Podcast Page.