Hales budget would mean big changes for Fire Bureau - KPTV - FOX 12

Hales budget would mean big changes for Fire Bureau

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Portland firefighters battle a blaze on East Burnside last week. Portland firefighters battle a blaze on East Burnside last week.
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A budget proposal from Mayor Charlie Hales means the Portland Fire and Rescue Bureau could have to deal with some significant cuts in the next year.

Hales' proposal, announced Tuesday, asks to eliminate 41.8 positions from the fire bureau. He also wants to eliminate four standard engine companies and, instead, establish four two-person rapid response vehicles (RRVs) to place in high-call volume areas. The RRVs are SUVs carrying life-saving equipment, but they are more fuel efficient than fire trucks and engines. They can be sent to medical calls where fires are not involved.

Each affected standard engine company has about 12 firefighters on it, but fire chief Erin Janssens is hoping no one will lose their job. The bureau would re-assign as many of the truck and engine company staff as possible to the RRVs, and remaining firefighters will leave by way of attrition, such as retirements or moving on to other jobs.

It hasn't been determined yet which stations will be targeted for the changes.

Janssens said in a statement it has been an especially difficult budget year for everyone in the city.

"Mayor Hales stated from the beginning that solving these problems requires a shared sacrifice from all and PF&R is working hard to be a part of the solution," Janssens said.

Hales said his budget rejected a proposal to close up to seven fire stations. Under his plan, all stations will stay open.

For more information on city budget cuts, view FOX 12's recap here.

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