Portland fire station to get $2 million in FEMA grant money

PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – An understaffed Portland fire department is getting millions of dollars to better serve the surrounding community.

“Two people is not enough and that’s all they’ve had for the last five years,” Isaac McLennan, the Portland Firefighter’s Association President, said.

Station 23 serves a part of Southeast Portland and has been understaffed since they reopened with a two-man crew.

“There’s been some two or three alarm fires that have happened in that area when they’re the first unit to arrive. They don’t have any fire hose, or water or ladders or tools or any rescue equipment. They just have themselves and a radio,” McLennan said.

Wednesday, they got approved to get $2 million as a part of FEMA’s SAFER grant, which will fully staff their fire engine for three years, which has been sitting unused at their station because you need four people to use it.

“I’m so excited that this station gets a fire engine,” he said. “I actually talked to the captain today. I called him, one of the first phone calls I made, because he’s always talked to me about his frustrations about only being a two-person crew and not having the resources they need to be a real, working fire station and how hard it is to be in the community who knows, for some people, they know their safety is at risk.”

The Portland Firefighter’s Association said there have been several fires in just the last year where a four-person crew would have made all the difference. Instead, they had to wait for backup from a fully staffed engine. That includes a major fire on Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard that burned down two vintage stores and two restaurants last October and most recently an apartment fire on Southeast Division Street in July.

With this funding, McLennan said Station 23 will better serve the community around them and relieve other stations too.

“I think it’ll feel like a win to that station, and I think also to the stations around them because all of the stations around that station have to respond.” So it’s going to decrease workload, it’s going to improve morale,” he said.

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