Siletz is a bit of the old wild west in more than one way with recent law enforcement action taking up more and more headline space.
But the OTHER emergency service, Siletz Valley Fire Rescue has emerged as a rising force to protect the community from fire, from getting into trouble on the Siletz and other nearby rivers, and having their lives and health saved by Siletz Valley Fire Rescue.
Having a volunteer fire department where most of the town folk are gone during the day at work puts a real strain on those few able bodied men and women still around to respond to a fire or medical emergency.
But relatively new Fire Chief RC Mock and his other full time fire fighter professional Andrew Shannon have raised the bar not only in volunteer recruitment and training, but in getting the job done when the 9-1-1 bell goes off. A little over a year ago there was an incident during which a house caught fire and the delayed fire department response was so long for lack of personnel that neighbors grabbed hoses and saved it themselves. Chief Mock says “hopefully those days are gone. We’re working hard at it.”
Chief Mock says over the past year and a half he’s worked hard to enlist more volunteers, get them certified with all the equipment and able to man all the engines when needed. Mock says Shannon has already earned his Advanced Life Support paramedic rating, while he himself is in the middle of acquiring his. So it’s very beneficial, Mock says, that the Siletz community now has two highly rated paramedics in Siletz that can respond very quickly to emergencies so the town no longer has to wait on occasion 15 minutes to a half hour for an advanced life support unit from outside the area to get there.
Chief Mock says his fire district board of directors recently authorized him to apply for a new fire truck specializing in building and home fires. If they get the FEMA federal grant it’ll put a nearly half-million dollar, state of the art fire truck in the hands of Siletz’s growing cadre of volunteers.
But Chief Mock isn’t willing to stop there. He’s also working on a grant for building a new Siletz Valley Fire-Rescue station right behind the department’s current facility. That’ll come with a $600,000 dollar price tag, which again would be largely grant funded with the local share of the cost being provided by the sale of the current fire department building. It’s expected the old fire hall would be converted to some commercial/retail purpose, which in turn means a bump up in local property tax revenues.
Chief Mock says the department is also offering FREE CPR classes for all Siletz residents. Those living outside the district can still take the classes for a very reduced rate. Saving lives never came at such a low cost.
Another added efficiency for Siletz residents is applying for a burn permit without having to come in and fill out paperwork. They can apply “on line” and get all the scoop on how to go about having their burn in a safe and effective way.
Chief Mock says he’s also proud of this department’s growing proficiency in water rescue operations on the Siletz and other local bodies of water. They’re using dry suits and lots of inflatable river craft. They’re conducting a yearly water rescue academy so when they show up to rescue someone they want a fast, safe and happy ending.
Crews are also checking out their local fire hydrants to make sure they’re putting out good fire flow – both Siletz Valley Fire and Siletz Tribal hydrants.
So a younger, stronger and better trained Siletz Valley Fire Rescue operation is alive and well and ready to serve at the drop of a tone out from 9-1-1. Stop by and say hi.