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Day: April 27, 2010

Firefighters draw up cooperation charter

By HERB SWETT
For the Keizertimes

A charter of cooperation, drawn up by a committee of firefighters, won unanimous approval from the directors of Marion County Fire District No. 1, the Turner Fire District and the Willamette Valley Fire and Rescue Authority (WVFRA) on Thursday, April 15, at the Turner Fire Station.

The committee, appointed partly by firefighters’ organizations and partly by fire board members in December 2009 in response to concerns over the WVFRA administration, worked on the charter with the guidance of Bob McCarthy, an organization development consultant. The charter is known as the WVFRA Way.

Its mission is “to support the viability of fire districts who positively impact their communities.”

It lists organizational values of integrity, honesty, attitude, accountability, trust, loyalty, respect, teamwork, a positive work environment, cooperation, commitment and preparedness.

It also lists principles of safety, communication, customer service, competency, financial integrity, relationships, fitness and hard work.

Calling the charter “a vision, a model, a framework,” McCarthy told the boards that it did not yet have “the structure to make it happen.”

However, he said the charter was the foundation necessary for the structure, which he said would be the next step. He told the directors and firefighters that they would have to keep the charter in mind constantly to maintain the structure.

The committee members, he said, did not arrive at the principles by simple majority votes but made sure each one was worded to have the general agreement of all the members.

The joint board meeting was preceded by a brief meeting of the Turner District board, at which Bob Palmer, a former volunteer firefighter for District No. 1, read the letter he had written to the District No. 1 board in March, urging that both fire districts “pay their respective fair share for the percentage of the benefits they receive.”

Where’s the Dalmatian at Keizer Fire Dist?

Ask us a question about just about anything and we’ll find the answer.

This week we’re mixing it up. Our publisher fired off the following missive to Jeff Cowan, chief of the Keizer Fire District.

“Dear Jeff,

I had a thought.  Why doesn’t the Keizer Fire District have a fire hall Dalmatian? Are there health regulations?  I know that other fire departments in the country have them.  Is it too much of a hassle?”

Jeff replied back:

“The original concept was the Dalmatian was an early version of the siren that ran ahead of the horse-drawn and with the uniqueness of the breed, everyone knew there was a fire.

“The list is long. But hassle is the short answer.

“The Dalmatian breed has two versions: mellow and neurotic.  So you have a 50/50 risk of biting a child. We would have to fund special insurance, vet bills, food, etc. without using tax dollars. Dogs also need a special restraint system.

“We frequently leave the station unattended if we are busy, so the dog’s needs may not always be met. The maintenance of the dog must be of the highest level, so a crewmember has to be assigned and we rotate.

“I have seen a successful program with a Dalmatian up north where the dog Blaze would stop, drop and roll for the kids and ride in the engine. That dog belonged to the public education specialist and went home with them.

“My focus is on the nature of our work and a lot of energy would be diverted to the maintenance of a fire house dog.  But I know there are folks that do.

“The best in the world is a Dalmatian volunteer that keeps the fire district mascot and brings them along on fire service community event days.  I’m not against the tradition.”