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Ashland Fire & Rescue: More than a fire department

As the fire service has evolved over the decades, so has Ashland Fire & Rescue, and probably more than most people know. We talked about the ambulance service in our last edition of the Alarm Box, but did you know that we help senior citizens live safely in their homes? Or that we care for hundreds of acres of city-owned forests? And that’s just a start.

Here’s a quick sample of innovative and essential programs we offer the community:

The Ashland Fire & Rescue Housing Safety Program assists eligible seniors and persons with disabilities in making safety and accessibility modifications to their residence to ensure a home has fire safety alarms, and helping the individual attain greater mobility and remain safely in their home. The program focuses on the person’s most immediate needs as they relate to improving safety and accessibility. Residents age 62 or older and/or persons with disabilities with an annual household income of 80 percent of the area median income or less are eligible. Why do we do this? We’d rather see seniors living safely at home than take them to the hospital after a fall.

Firefighters reach out to local schools through our Fire & Life Safety Education program. Students gain knowledge on how to make responsible choices regarding health and safety. Our program includes firefighter acknowledgment, Stop, Drop, and Roll, crawl low under smoke, bicycle safety, kitchen safety, home escape plans and family emergency planning.

Through our commercial inspection program, our firefighters continually visit buildings across town looking to help owners make their buildings safe for you, our visitors and their employees. We did 196 fire safety inspections in 2018, looking for everything from smoke detectors to exit signs.

CPR and first-aid classes are offered regularly to help increase the number of people out there who can safe a life during a medical emergency. Is your card up to date? See ashland.or.us/cpr for more.

Are you ready for the Cascadia earthquake? Our disaster preparedness programs can get you there. Whether it’s Ashland’s much-loved Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program training volunteers to help during a time of great need, teaching you how to make a disaster “go kit,” or consulting with businesses on how to reopen after a disaster, we work on that. Our Ashland Is Ready program has reached out to every citizen with seminars and our Emergency Preparedness Guidebook that was sent to all addresses in town last year.

And what about the wildfires and smoke? Our Ashland Forest Resiliency, Smokewise Ashland, Firewise USA, and City Forest Management programs secure millions of dollars that help Ashland’s forests and citizens prepare for our most likely natural disaster. Smokewise is a new effort that started after the 2017 smoke impacts to our health and our economy and partners with the Ashland Chamber of Commerce, Asante, and Jackson County. We’re also on the board of the Southern Oregon Forest Restoration Collaborative, because smoke is a regional issue that needs a regional solution like the Rogue Basin Strategy.

And we still find time to give station tours to school groups, make sure we’re ready for the next 911 call (we average more than 10 a day), and help our neighbors when they call for help, because they’re ready to return the favor when we call.

If you’re interested in any of these programs, please visit our website at ashland.or.us/fire, call us at 541-482-2770, or stop by Station No. 1 at 455 Siskiyou Boulevard.

Mike D’Orazi is chief of Ashland Fire & Rescue. The Alarm Box, a column with local public safety information, appears triweekly in the Tidings.

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