SHADY COVE — Firefighter safety is at the top of Fire Chief Bob Miller's list as he plans for a fundraising yard sale Aug. 30.

SHADY COVE — Firefighter safety is at the top of Fire Chief Bob Miller's list as he plans for a fundraising yard sale Aug. 30.

Miller, of Jackson County Fire District No. 4, said it's sometimes difficult to get small items for the department when larger and more expensive needs come first, but even the cost of small items adds up fast.

He said he hopes the yard sale will raise enough money to buy two pair of safety pants for each of his four regular firefighters and 15 volunteers.

"Because they hold up so well, we've been wearing work pants that are 50-percent cotton and 50-percent polyester," said Miller, "but anymore, the National Fire Protection Association says it's got to be Nomex."

Nomex is a heat- and flame-resistant fiber developed in the late 1960s by DuPont.

"The 50-50 blend burns too quickly and polyester melts, so we're switching out," he said.

"It's a little hard to fight a fire when your pants are melting and sticking to your skin," said district board member Linda Hughes, who is helping Miller set up the yard sale.

"For a small district, we have a decent budget," she said, "but our equipment is old and replacing it is expensive. Think of tires. You just can't go to any tire store and buy tires for a fire engine."

"The Nomex pants are $90 a pair," said Miller. "It's not too bad just buying two pair for our four regulars, but when you add the volunteers at $90 a pop, you're talking quite a bit of money."

The district already has Nomex shirts, acquired with a U. S. Fire Administration Firefighters Grant. The fire crews also use Nomex shrouds to protect their faces when fighting wildfires.

To the touch, Nomex feels a little like light canvas.

"What's nice is that these new pants are lighter weight, so during the summer you can feel the breeze flowing through," said Miller. "You think, 'no way,' but you can. Some fire people say they're a little cooler in the winter, but normally our people wear something underneath anyway."

Miller said fire-equipment needs sometimes come as a complete surprise. For years, the department had paid a county scuba shop to fill its air tanks. In May, the shop owner said he couldn't do it anymore because it was too hard on his air compressor.

The district had to make some quick decisions.

"We did an emergency transfer of funds to buy our own compressor and charge station," said Miller. "It cost $38,000 and that was the least expensive one."

Because of the unexpected emergency, plans to repave in front of the station along Highway 62 in Shady Cove and installation of a security fence recommended by the district's insurance company will wait for another fiscal year.

Miller said he already has some interesting yard-sale items stored at the district's Lost Creek station.

"One gentleman gave us a 1950s-era Columbia Twosome bicycle," he said. "A bicycle built for two. We've got barbecues, glass-topped dining room tables and DVDs, too."

He laughs when he shows a pink Barbie jeep that once was owned by a local policeman.

"It's a little beat up, but when we gave it a jump, it started right up."

Miller said he isn't accepting electronics, appliances or mattresses for the sale, but would accept cash donations if someone wanted to help with the Nomex pants project.

The District 4 yard sale opens at 8 a.m. Saturday in front of the fire station, 21200 Highway 62, Shady Cove. To contact Miller, call 541-878-2666.

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at newsmiller@yahoo.com.