Hillsboro Fire Dept. gets OK for rescue work

The Hillsboro City Council went off agenda at the end of its July 6 meeting to authorize Fire Chief Ben Steketee to sign a contract that would make his volunteer department a primary rescue responder for Marion County.

As the meeting was about to adjourn, Councilor Byron McCarty voiced his support for the contract between the Hills?boro Fire Department and Marion County Emergency Medical Services, calling it ?a matter of public safety.?

With other council members indicating their agreement, McCarty made the recommendation to authorize Steketee to sign the agreement. Councilor Kevin Suderman seconded the recommendation and it passed 4-0 with minimal discussion preceding the vote.

The transaction took about a minute to complete.


Steketee said Monday he plans to sign the contract sometime this week.

Once the contract is signed, HFD ?technically? will be a primary rescue unit in Marion County, Paine said after the meeting.

?In reality, dispatch needs to make some changes to their records that designate Hillsboro as the primary responder,? he said.

Steketee had presented the proposal in a work session following the June 15 regular meeting.

The plan, if fully implemented, would designate four fire departments as primary rescue responders: Hillsboro, Marion, Peabody and Florence. Each department would cover a designated area of the county with the intent of speeding up response time.

Under the former arrangement, Marion has provided the only primary responder in the county, with all other departments designated as secondary responders.

As the primary responder, the Marion unit was required to respond to all calls, wherever they occurred in the county.

Even though the city council could not have acted upon the proposal when it was initially presented because it was a work session and not a public meeting, the issue appeared to be on indefinite hold after Mayor Delores Dalke suggested the council needed to consider developing a plan for systematically setting aside funds to replace emergency and other city vehicles.

In anticipation of the new arrangement, the city had received without charge a 1987 Ford F-300 rescue truck formerly used by the Florence Fire Depart?ment.

Steketee said once the contract is signed, the Hillsboro Fire Department is authorized to request funding help from Marion County EMS to acquire additional eqipment for the truck. With additional primary responders in the county, EMS will use its $26,000 budget for training and equipment.

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