BEND, OR -- The Bend Fire Department is in the process of selecting its newest firefighters.
Chief Larry Langston tells KBND News the new hires are possible, thanks to a funding levy passed by voters last May. "We’re bringing 10 on in February, and they’ll staff some of the voids we have on the engines because of retirements. And also they’ll staff on to our paramedic units, we have two of those." He says the new firefighters are part of a larger hiring program that will eventually bring 25 new employees to the department, this year. He says the larger goal is to decrease response times for emergency calls. The department services medical calls over a more than 16-hundred square mile area of Deschutes County.
Langston says the ten new firefighter-paramedis will start at the fire academy, "It’ll start in February. In the middle of May they’ll go on the engines and the paramedic units. So, we’ll see the first good impacts of the funding brought on by the tax measure, first part of the summer." The levy past by voters last year was the first time the department has asked for additional funding in its 100-year history.