Mosier Fire District: changes in leadership and direction – Where we’ve been and where we are going

Late in 2016, Mosier Fire District contracted the Special Districts Association of Oregon (SDAO) to perform a comprehensive audit of Mosier Fire District (MFD,) including staffing, budgets, capacity, operations, safety and planning – to gauge how we can continuously improve.

SDAO expert consultants included three retired Fire Chiefs with decades of experience each, who advised the team on areas of improvement to better serve the growing safety needs of our community.

Once the initial assessment was completed, the MFD Board held months of planning meetings, lengthy discussions with staff, volunteers, state experts, and the public to reinvigorate Mosier Fire Department and determine the next steps forward.

It had become clear that the department’s needs had changed over the last seven years and the Chief’s role was much more complex than during the agency’s start up phase. On 11/8/17, Mosier Fire District Board voted unanimously to conclude its contract with Fire Chief Jim Appleton. This step was made with appreciation for all that Appleton has done for the community.

The board appointed the current Training Officer Mike Renault, a veteran with 30 years of fire service experience, as Interim Fire Chief until future leadership decisions were made.

Where to from here

A commitment to continuous evaluation and improvement are hallmarks of successful public safety agencies. MFD Board takes this commitment seriously, and hired SDAO, the state experts in small public service districts for Oregonians.

We’ve made needed improvements – from enhancing training and volunteer recruitment to policy development and strategic planning. We took action on SDAO’s “top 10” recommendations, which were focused on reducing risk and adopting best practices of the fire service industry.

MFD Board doubled its board meetings, added a second monthly work session and brought in trainers from SDAO to guide staff, Board and volunteers in establishing service priorities.

Our district provides fire suppression, emergency medical services (EMS), rescue of persons and fire prevention activities. We are realigning our organization to meet Mosier’s expanding needs –1400+ households, with a real market value of more than $142 million across 22 square miles, or 14,080 acres.

As a small, mostly volunteer fire and EMS agency with one full time Chief, we still have a ways to go, but we are excited about the enhanced focus of purpose, teamwork and synergy with volunteers, mutual aid and state partners.

The MFD goal is to move forward from our district’s start up phase, to a long-term sustainable operation that is team-based, with a focus on higher safety standards, adding structural fire protection, and enhancing our response model from a “one man band” strategy to professional development and team-based coverage.

Enhanced training and Interim Fire Chief

The Board took swift action on the SDAO recommendation to hire a Training Officer, to ensure our safety training and certifications met industry standards. Mike Renault was hired under contract June 1, with a specific focus of delivering regular trainings, enhancing professional certifications for staff and volunteers, and adding structural fire protection for Mosier homes.

In the short term, he resolved the DPSST (state training standards) re-certification of our agency, which was on the verge of lapsing.

Renault reported to Chief Appleton, who appointed him Division Chief. Hats off to Renault for continuing to move the MFD team forward, staying focused on training and team building, despite changes in leadership.

MFD responders were tested in the interim- and succeeded

Chief Renault and the volunteer team have been tested in the last month with a doubling of our normal call volume. Despite Renault’s part time Chief status, and more frequent emergency calls, our team met all calls promptly and professionally.

Also in the last month, Renault also met with neighboring fire agencies to help expand partnership and mutual aid support with Hood River and Wasco counties. More to come in the future.

Our sincere thanks go to the Fire and EMS team – particularly unpaid volunteers, who have been the heart of our department since its beginning, circa 1919, when a single fire event destroyed much of downtown Mosier.

Where we are headed

After generations of all-volunteer firefighter service, taxpayers began investing in the MFD special tax district seven years ago. After this start up phase, our focus has shifted to raising the bar for Fire and EMS services and safety with a combined paid/volunteer model.

Enhanced teamwork with partner agencies, safety and regulatory compliance, continuous training, and volunteer recruitment and retention are vital. So is adding structural fire protection and much-needed safety focus, after the high-profile fire incidents we have seen in the last decade.

Our promise to you is this – we will continue to listen, ask questions, seek advice and move our district forward, in the best interests of the citizens we serve. MFD is focused on ensuring that our program is effective, maximizes resources and meets the highest, best needs of our community.

 

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Mosier Fire District Statement 11/9/17

On November 8th, 2017, the Mosier Fire District Board voted unanimously to conclude its relationship with Jim Appleton as Chief.
Mike Renault remains acting Chief. Mike is a well known Emergency Management professional in the Gorge and has over 30 years experience in the fire service. He has previously been a chief officer, both in the Army and as Chief of Cascade Locks Fire Department.
The Fire District’s ability to respond to emergencies has been tested over the past weeks with a far higher than usual call volume. We are pleased to report that all calls continue to be staffed quickly and effectively. Mosier Fire Volunteers and Chief Renault continue to provide Emergency Services to Mosier.
The district’s office is open less often, but administrative functions are being performed, and you will see Volunteers and Chief Renault around town training, assisting constituents, and responding to calls. Please feel free to call Chief Renault for administrative or operational issues at 541 478 3333 or email mike.renault@mosierfire.com
You may also contact the MFD Board president Phil Evans at phil.evans@mosierfire.com  Or simply attend one of the regular board meetings which includes opportunities for public comment: 2nd Thursday of each month @ 6pm at the Mosier Senior Center.

Mosier Fire District Statement

The Mosier Fire District Board recently placed the Mosier Fire Chief, Jim Appleton, on Administrative leave. This has followed several executive session discussions and months of department “reboot” meetings involving Board, staff, state agencies and volunteers.

While we work through this situation, we want to assure you that the Board and Volunteers are absolutely dedicated to continuing our high quality services to the Mosier community.

The board has appointed Mike Renault as interim Fire Chief. Mike is a well known Emergency Management professional in the Gorge and has over 30 years experience in the fire service. He has has previously been a chief officer, both in the Army and as Chief of Cascade Locks FD.

Mike has been fulfilling the role of Training Officer for our District and he will also continue in that role. The Mosier Fire Fighter Academy will continue to train our new volunteers and aims to graduate seven new qualified fire fighters next spring.

The Fire District’s ability to respond to emergencies has been tested over the past few weeks with a far higher than usual call volume. We are pleased to report that all calls were staffed quickly and effectively.

While the district’s office will be open less often, the administrative functions will be kept up to date and you will see Mike and the volunteers in and around town training, patrolling, and responding to calls as usual.

The Mosier Fire District Board will be working hard over the next weeks and months to define and appoint the appropriate staffing for the administration of the District. And we are eager to talk with the community and hear your thoughts.

Please feel free to call Mike for operational issues on 541 478 3333 or email mike.renault@mosierfire.com

You may also contact the MFD Board president Phil Evans on Phil.evans@mosierfire.com

Or simply attend one of the regular board meetings which includes opportunities for public comment: 2nd Thursday of each month @ 6pm at the Mosier Senior Center.

Open Burning Allowed Starting Monday October 16th – Permit Required

Open burning will be allowed again as of Monday the 16th. You will still need a burning permit from the fire district if you do not have a current one. Call the fire district at 541-478-3333 to arrange to get a current permit.

10/13/17 Mosier Fire District statement

The Mosier Fire District (MFD) Board placed Chief Jim Appleton on paid administrative leave after a public meeting vote on 9/25/17. This followed executive session discussions with Appleton and months of department “reboot” meetings involving Board, staff, state agencies and volunteers.

Mosier Board, firefighters, officers, staff and EMT’s remain committed to ensuring your service and safety and there has been no interruption in service or loss of fire and EMS protection during this interim period.

Division Chief Mike Renault, Mosier Fire District’s Training Officer has been appointed to serve as interim Fire Chief.

Chief Renault can be reached at 541-478-3333 or mike.renault@mosierfire.com

Eagle Creek Fire Map, Public Meeting Announcement

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Here is a link to today’s fire progression map, showing the growth of the fire color-coded by each day.

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Also, there will be a public meeting led by the Incident Management Team tomorrow, Saturday, 9/16/2017, at noon at Hood River Valley High School, 1220 Indian Creek Road.

Fire managers will present information on the fire, and take questions from the public.

Please attend!

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Eagle Creek Fire update 9/7

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Fire activity on the Eagle Creek Fire still does not pose a direct threat to the Mosier area as of 10AM Thursday 9/7.

Despite thick smoke, the fire is still approximately twenty-five miles to our west.
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Fire officials expect much slower progression of the fire from west to east than the dramatic runs seen earlier in the week on a hot, dry east wind.
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I will be informed promptly if that changes, and I will update via email and on our website should things deteriorate in a way which puts the Mosier community on notice.
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Otherwise, assume that good progress is being made at stopping the Eagle Creek Fire before it reaches developed areas.
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The best current information on the fire, evacuations, and ways to help is at the official Facebook page, Hood River County Sheriff’s website and Twitter feed, and at Inciweb.
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It’s still too soon to say when this fire will be stopped.  It could be the better part of a week or more before it is close to contained.  Expect continued heavy smoke for many more days, possibly until fall rains set in.  But as of this morning there is at least reason to hope — cautiously, humbly — that the worst of its effects in Hood River County could soon be over.
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Absorbing the scope of what has been lost will not be easy for many of us.  But with luck and continued hard work by many capable people, homes and livelihoods just might come out of this without devastating losses.
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