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Chief stresses fire safety after vote

Peardale-Chicago Park Fire Protection District Chief Jim Bierwagen is encouraging resident to pay special attention to fire safety after area property owners voted down a fire assessment that would have paid for two full-time firefighters in the area.

The proposed annual $206 fee would have provided the firefighters to augment the 12 on-call volunteer firefighters who serve the Peardale-Chicago Park Fire Protection District, Bierwagen said.

Fifty-two percent of residents voted against the proposal, with 48 percent voting in favor, said district secretary Debbie Bierwagen.



The assessment, or flat fee for all improved parcels, would have applied to approximately 1,600 properties, she said.

All votes were tallied at a fire district board meeting Wednesday night.




Chief Bierwagen said he would like to wait a year to propose another assessment or a special tax.

“We need to illicit a lot more community involvement,” he said, adding that a 24-hour-staffed station is a necessity.

The fire station now is staffed with one full-time firefighter for 10 hours per day, with no night coverage other than on-call volunteers.

When a fire breaks out at night, it takes volunteers an average of eight minutes to get from their homes to the station to pick up an engine, Bierwagen said. With a staffed station, he said, an engine would be deployed within a minute.

That time difference is crucial, he said, adding that a residential structure fire doubles in size every seven minutes. The average living room, he said, takes about 45 seconds to become fully involved.

Bierwagen warns residents to pay attention to fire safety, particularly in communities where firefighter response is likely to be delayed:

“When you clean out your wood stove, put the ashes in a metal bucket,” he said. “Take it outside and pour water in it. I can’t tell you how many times fires have started when people put ashes in a plastic bucket or a cardboard box.”

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To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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