Woodburn, Oregon – April 18, 2024 – The Woodburn Fire District is informing residents about the opportunity to vote on the renewal of the district’s local option levy on the May 21st  ballot.  Measure 24-495 aims to maintain the current firefighter staffing levels and the district’s advanced life support and fire prevention efforts with no increase in taxes.

Initially approved by voters in 2019, the operating levy ensures a minimum of four firefighters on-duty everyday; a commitment that the fire district has met every day since the start of the levy without exception.  The 2019 levy approval also allowed the start of the district’s advanced life support program that provided paramedic training for select district members and the purchase of advanced life support equipment.  This allowed the district to have at least one paramedic on-duty every day to bring state of the art pre-hospital care to those experiencing medical emergencies.

The total number of emergency 9-1-1 calls have been increasing every year in direct proportion to the surging population resulting in an 80% increase since 2010. With more than 3,500 residential units recently completed or currently under development, the ability to continue to add additional firefighters and paramedics is needed to prevent delays in life-saving actions during medical emergencies, fires, and motor vehicle accidents. The renewal of the levy will allow the district to continue to add firefighters and paramedics as the population grows at no additional cost to taxpayers.

Without the levy revenue which provides 16% of the annual operating budget, the district will be forced to close Station 22 on the east side of Woodburn.  The fire district began staffing this station with career firefighters in early 2023 to help serve the rapidly growing residential development occurring in that part of the city and provide a quicker response to Gervais.  The firefighters at Station 22 also assist with the coverage of overlapping 9-1-1 calls which occurred 1,251 times in 2023.  Without Station 22, the district will have only one fire engine staffed with career firefighters resulting in significant delays in emergency response with overlapping call coverage coming from neighboring fire districts and volunteers responding from home.

Without the levy, the district will no longer be able to guarantee to have a paramedic on duty every day to provide advanced life support for those experiencing cardiac arrests, strokes and other medical emergencies.  Failure of the levy will also result in the lay-off of three part-time staff positions that provide fire prevention and life safety inspections, volunteer firefighter recruitment and training and CERT & Community CPR program management.

The cost of the levy will remain at $0.35 cents per $1,000 assessed property value. For a home with an assessed value of $200,000, about average for residences in the fire district, this amounts to approximately $5.83 per month or about $70 per year.

The Woodburn Fire District serves a 75 square mile area of the Willamette Valley, including the communities of Woodburn, Gervais, Waconda, and Broadacres, with a population of more than 34,000 residents.  Services provided include emergency medical response, fire suppression, fire prevention, rescue services, hazardous materials response, and public assistance such as lift assists for seniors who have fallen, water leak problems and smoke detectors checks.

Woodburn Fire District appreciates the community’s attention to this important issue and encourages all eligible voters to participate in the May 21st election. For more information about the Woodburn Fire District and the operating levy renewal measure, contact Fire Chief Joe Budge at (503) 982-2360 or via email at joe.budge@woodburnfire.com.