Picture from August 2011 Burn to Learn 

Issue No. 19August 2011
Station 19 contributes blood, sweat and tears to the annual Soapbox Derby

For the third year in a row, off-duty firefighters from Station 19 participated in a family-friendly and time honored tradition in the community they directly serve. Each August, off-duty firefighters turn into race car drivers and brave the daunting slopes of Mt. Tabor to test their home made soapboxes at the annual PDX Adult Soapbox Derby. 


In 2009, Station 19 firefighters constructed and debuted a soapbox fire engine, complete with Portland Fire & Rescue decals, ladders, flaming red color, working bell, and sturdy metal body.


In 2010, the previously built engine was converted into "Truck 19.5." Added were metal ladders and heavy duty wheels, and the derby fire truck spanned four feet tall and close to 12 feet long.  Special safety considerations included brakes, a horn, a fire extinguisher, and two drivers - one at the front of Truck 19.5 and one to maneuver the tillered back.  The color scheme matched Portland Fire & Rescue's fire engines and trucks.



This year's participants included Robert Root, Josef Kuehnast, Andrew Staheli and Jared Borland. They were all wearing fire gear to support the car Saturday morning where they competed honking their horns all the way down the track.


Unfortunately, Truck 19.5 did not survive her three heats intact. On the second run down, the back part of the truck became unhinged from the front in a crash. Thankfully, no civilians or firefighters needed to seek medical attention from the off-duty firefighters.



Soapbox Derby is an awesome Portland tradition that brings out all kinds of creativity and participation from citizens. PF&R was honored to participate, and hopes to be able to do so next year. 

 Battalion Chief Kevin Shanders Uses Paramedic Skills in the Air 


While flying home from Anchorage, Alaska, Battalion Chief Kevin Shanders ran into an unexpected emergency. About an hour into his three hour flight, a 71-year-old male who was seated behind him had a seizure. "He was sitting behind me and began to bang my seat.  I thought it was just a child at first," Shanders said.


Chief Shanders knew that the man needed medical attention, and moved next to him and began assessing him. When flight attendants asked for a paramedic or doctor, he identified himself as a firefighter and paramedic. Chief Shanders originally assessed the man for a stroke, but ended up concluding that it was cardiac arrest. Though Shanders no longer responds to medical calls on the line, the skills and instincts of a firefighter never leave. Chief Shanders was able to calmly and accurately provide aid; inserting an IV, giving oxygen, and checking vitals and blood pressure. He chose to stay seated next to the man for the remainder of his flight.


Shortly after the incident, Chief Shanders received a letter from the man's family (based in Denver) to report that he was doing well, and how grateful they are.  He is pleased that his background allowed him to be helpful in this scary situation.


Everyday, PF&R firefighters help to save lives both on and off duty.  

Father Urges Other Parents to Turn Down Hot Water Heater Temperature After Bathtub Accident 


David Hammer, a single dad of three kids, was scrambling.  It was bath time for 3-year-old Rhegan.  His older son had used the last bath towel.  All the clean towels were in the dryer.  He set Rhegan in the 1912 claw foot bathtub, but decided not to run the bath until he got back from retrieving a towel.  Reaching the basement, he grabbed the load of laundry out of the dryer and threw it in the laundry basket.  That's when he heard Rhegan screaming upstairs.  As he approached the bathroom, he saw steam coming out the door.  Rhegan had somehow turned on the hot water, which was streaming from the shower head and the tub's faucet onto her small body. 


"Prior to the accident, my teenage boys and I would drain the hot water tank when we all showered.  I made the mistake of turning up the water heater to the hottest level to get more hot water.  Now, I would gladly take a cold shower for the rest of my life if I could undo what happened to my little girl," said Hammer.




Hammer, a former Marine and current Marine Reservist since 1987, says he's seen a lot during his years in the military.  But nothing compared to this.  He recounts that day - June 20, 2011 - when he pulled Rhegan from the steaming water.  Parts of her body where the water had touched left scald burns that made her look like she had a bad sunburn.  He wrapped her in a towel and noticed that her skin was falling off.  "That's when I lost it," said Hammer.  Horrified, Hammer rushed the girl to Adventist Medical Center.  Medical personnel immediately transferred her to the intensive care unit at the Oregon Burn Center, where it was determined that Rhegan had suffered 2nd and 3rd degree scald burns on 35% of her body. 


Initially, doctors replaced the most damaged skin with a synthetic skin until it was determined that Rhegan could undergo a grafting operation using her own skin.  Several grafting operations have been successfully completed and Rhegan continues her recovery at the Oregon Burn Center.  She is expected to be in rehabilitation for another month. 




Hammer admits it's difficult to share about what happened given that this accident was preventable.  "If telling our story can get even one family in Portland to turn down their water heater's temperature today, it's worth it," said Hammer.


To have warm water at a safe temperature (120 degrees), your hot water tank should be set to no higher than 130 degrees.  And, safety experts recommend, never leave children unattended near a water source where they could turn on the faucet and be exposed to the risk of scalding or drowning.




Meanwhile, at the Oregon Burn Center, Rhegan is improving every day.  Her smile is brighter.  Her deep blue eyes sparkle.  And her appetite is back.  She loves to have volunteers from Portland Fire & Rescue come pull her in her wagon through the Oregon Burn Center garden each day.  The activity she enjoys most each day is picking a purple flower for her hair before firefighter volunteers wheel her wagon back to her room.  Her prognosis for a full recovery is good and fortunately - due to their location - many of her scars will be concealable as she grows.

Mobile Command 9 



Portland Fire & Rescue purchased Mobile Command 9 (MC9) through an Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI) grant.  UASI encompasses five counties - Multnomah, Washington, Clackamas, Clark, and Columbia.  A team of firefighters from Portland Fire Station 9 facilitates command center deployment and assists command with operation of the vehicle (radios, IT issues, video functions, etc.).


MC9 provides state of the art on-scene capabilities, which include:  advanced radio communications management, a video encoder for live streaming,  microwave video downlink from aircraft, various forms of scene surveillance, internal and external  web access, internal and external video cable system, cache of portable radios, cellular and satellite phones, and provides remote workstations.


MC9's primary function is as a mobile command post.  MC9 is dispatched automatically on various levels of incidents in the city as well as by request from an outside agency in the UASI region. It is ideal for unified command (i.e. Fire, Law, County Health, Civil Support team), and to promote interoperability with outside entities and support apparatus such as Portland Police and the FBI.

Portland Fire's Kim Kosmas Wins Oregon State Figure Championship


In May 2011, Portland Fire Senior Inspector Kim Kosmas participated in the NPC Emerald Cup and placed first in the Open Figure Tall Class (Class G). Only 10 months before, Kosmas competed in her first competition in over 16 years. On July 10, 2010 Kosmas competed in the 2010 Oregon State Bodybuilding, Figure and Fitness Championships, taking first and second place in two events.


Kosmas, who competed in bodybuilding championships for six years back in the 1990's, says that she began focusing on training for competition in November 2009. All of the intense workouts and strict dieting finally paid off for her! Kosmas reports that she couldn't have done it with her back stage supporter and coach - her husband.


Family means everything to her and she has had to carefully balance her work and workout schedules so they don't take time away from family. She sees herself as a good role model to her two girls, ages six and seven, and hopes to show them that you can achieve your goals even when you are older than most of your competition! Kosmas has always enjoyed weightlifting and track and reports that her workouts leave her feeling healthy and positive.


Kosmas traveled to Los Angeles next to complete in the Los Angeles Bodybuilding, Figure and Bikini Championships in Culver City, CA. She placed fourth in Figure (Class F) and third in Masters 35+.


Kosmas says, "It's been a lot of hard work and dedication to a six day a week workout schedule and strict dieting, but hopefully it all will pay off." Kosmas plans to compete in two or three competitions per year and is hopeful that her next competition could lead her to the professional level.


PF&R wishes Kim the best of luck and will be cheering her on.

In This Issue
Soapbox Derby
Battalion Chief Kevin Shanders
The Dangers of Hot Water
Mobile Command 9
Emergency Response Statistics
Inside PF&R's Station 1
Firefighter Training
Pull to the Right!
9/11 Service Project
Battalion Chief Kevin Shanders
HAM Radio Kits
About PF&R
Emergency Response Statistics (July 2011)


Total Incidents:                          5,799 Medical:                                     4,447
Fire:                                              430

Other:                                           922

Major Fires:                                   16*


*Major fires are those with over $10,000 in estimated fire damage.

Inside PF&R's Station 1 


Station 1, affectionately known as the "big house" is also a full house. With one deputy chief, three company officers, three firefighter paramedics and six firefighters, there is never a dull moment. Station 1 is one of the busiest stations in the Portland area, with around 30 calls per day.


Station 1 was originally built in 1950, but a remodel was done in 2009. It is situated in the heart of Portland, off of Naito Parkway, with beautiful views of the waterfront. The rigs and kitchen are located on the lowest floor, groundl evel, with living quarters on the second floor, and PF&R administrative offices on the third floor.


This station is known for its wide variety of specialty rescue training including trench, confined space, structural collapse, vehicle/machinery extraction, dive, rope, mechanical, and technical. Firefighters in this station say that they put in more training hours than any other station due to all of their specialties.


Station 1 serves the downtown areas of Old Town and China Town.  The majority of calls are for business owners rather then residential. As one of the busiest stations they are always moving. With so much activity and so many people, working at Station 1 is "just like having a big family."  

Firefighters Feel the Heat at Training




On August 9th, the Portland Fire Training Division led the crews of Engine 6, Engine 9, Engine 15, Squad 1 and Truck 1 in a Wildland Drill at the PF&R Training Center in SE Portland. This drill, which focuses on brush unit use, progressive hoselay, fire shelter deployment, firing devices and water tender operations, is mandatory. From August 3rd through September 8th, all uniformed personnel will go through the two and a half hour training process.



Besides just learning to fight specific fires, firefighters also use these drills to gain information on how they can protect themselves in the line of duty. This particular drill helps prepare firefighters to face situations similar to the one in the Columbia Gorge in early July of this year. Along the SR-14, a grass fire spread to over 250 acres, and though crews were able to dig a line around the fire and prevent spreading, a firefighter was treated for minor smoke inhalation and dehydration. Portland Fire & Rescue aims to protect Portland citizens as well as keep firefighters out of harm's way in their dangerous line of work.

Pull to the Right! 


Each day, Portland Fire & Rescue responds to hundreds of emergency calls. It is important that firefighters reach the site of the emergency quickly and efficiently because time that is lost on the way to an emergency could make a huge difference. When approaching an emergency vehicle, drivers should: 



  • Remain calm
  • Pull to the right as far as possible, and STOP!
  • Stay at least 500 feet behind emergency vehicles


  • Panic
  • Have loud music or other distractions in the car that prevent you from hearing sirens
  • Stop in the middle lane when there is room to pull right
  • Try to beat the emergency vehicle across an intersection

When you are approaching an emergency vehicle that is on scene, or has lights activated, remember to vacate the lane closest to the emergency vehicle and slow your speed.

 Honoring the Fallen of

 September 11, 2001 



On September 11th, all 30 Portland Fire Stations will be open to the public. Community members are welcome to stop by their local Portland Fire Station between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm for a time of reflection and remembrance of the lives lost with our firefighters.


In the spirit of service, Portland Fire has selected a project - Visible Address Portland - that will benefit emergency responders and the Portland community. Visible addressing is vital to emergency responders' ability to find homes quickly in an emergency. In case of a fire or medical emergency, seconds count. Many homes in Portland do not have visible addresses.


We invite individuals, families, schools, businesses, and organizations to join us in marking this historic day by participating in a service project that will help firefighters save lives. On September 11th, stop by any Portland Fire Station and pick up a "Visible Address Portland Kit". Kits will contain door hangers to hang on front doors of homes canvassed by community members where there is no visible address, encouraging homeowners to take action and make their address visible.


At Portland Fire, we believe that engaging in service and remembrance with the Portland community on the 9/11 10th Anniversary is a productive and respectful way to honor those who died and those who continue to serve.

More information can be found on our website:


Portland Fire & Rescue Internship  

Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) is seeking an actively enrolled college student for a one-year, part-time internship in its Management Services Division.


The position will perform a wide range of administrative support functions such as:  keyboard a variety of documents, perform data entry, answer incoming calls and direct callers as appropriate, compile, organize and track a variety of materials and/or data, schedule meeting rooms, assist with materials, open and process bureau mail, develop various flyers, brochures, and other materials, and assist with compiling, organizing, and tracking a variety of materials and data related to PF&R's website. The position will also assist with the development and production of the PF&R monthly E-Newsletter and Fire Blog.


The Application deadline is:

Thursday, September 1, 2011, 5:00 pm. So don't delay and apply today! For more information go to the link provided below: 



HAM Radio Kits Distributed to Five Regional Counties 


HAM radio has proven itself to be a strong backbone for public/emergency communications at disasters both nationwide and overseas. HAM radio would be used as a back up communications method if phone and computer networks failed during an emergency. Several years ago, HAM radio kits were purchased with MMRS grant monies to ensure HAM capabilities throughout the region. Kent Powloski from PF&R just completed assembling the final kits needed to complete this project  - 50 kits in total. Over 4,000 individual pieces were ordered and assembled in the kits.  Kent worked with various individuals from each regional county jurisdiction (Multnomah, Clackamas, Clark, Columbia, and Washington) where the kits will be delivered.  



On Thursday, August 5, a representative from Hillsboro Fire picked up eight kits to distribute in Washington County. One kit was used by the City of Hillsboro in a recent drill by HAM radio volunteers. Other kits will be used in the Hillsboro Air Show during the weekend of August 19 - 21. Members of ARES (amateur radio emergency services) will operate the radios at a command post and on the air field.  Specifically, crowd monitoring and reuniting lost children has been a role of the volunteer operators in the past. 10 teams of two operators will spread out over the air field using the communication kits.


The 50 kits will be distributed to Forest Grove Fire, Hillsboro Fire, Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue, City of Tigard, City of Beaverton, City of Sherwood, Washington County, and the City of Portland.



About Us


Portland Fire & Rescue (PF&R) is the largest fire agency and emergency medical service provider in the State of Oregon with 755 employees and serves a population of 582,000.  In 2010, PF&R responded to 65,403 emergency incidents, consistently demonstrating our commitment to be Always Ready, Always There for the citizens of Portland.


Portland Fire & Rescue
55 SW Ash
Portland, Oregon 97204


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Ideas? Questions? Contact E-News Editor Alisa Cour at 503-823-3383.
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