Editorial: Put Pricher back as CL fire chief, at least as interim

July 16, 2011

The Cascade Locks City Council needs to sign former Fire Chief Jeff Pricher to at least a three-month contract to maintain a decent level of fire service in the community.

Hopefully, during that period, the city will have hired an administrator who can help shape the fire department's future.

The city also needs to take up its volunteers request for a meeting between the council and volunteers.

Firefighters air out the hoses after an emergency; it looks like all concerned in Cascade Locks need earnestly air some things out.

When the city council, citing a lack of money, decided to eliminate the paid fire chief position, it left residents with an all-volunteer department. Pricher, who lost his job because of that decision, offered to head the city's volunteers. The city's Mayor George Fischer said Pricher did not apply to be assistant fire chief and therefore can't hold that position.

Meantime, the city's volunteer fire fighters decided not to respond to fire calls. The decision was partly based on safety, as members said they didn't want to be put at risk using equipment that wasn't being maintained on a regular basis. The volunteers have been ordered by the city, following consultation with the state State Fire Marshal, to respond to calls or risk losing their certification.

With the Cascade Locks volunteers idled, the nearest certified fire fighters are across the Columbia River in Stevenson. However, neither Skamania County agencies nor Oregon ones can respond to calls unless requested to by the nearest Oregon jurisdiction - Hood River.

Meantime, Jim Trammell, the city of Hood River fire defense chief, sent a letter this week to Fischer giving notice to terminate a mutual aid agreement with Cascade Locks. Trammell said he this was done because Cascade Locks has no fire chief nor volunteers who are currently willing to serve, and therefore Cascade Locks cannot reciprocate as required by the agreement.

As always, there are many things at play here - personality conflicts and power struggles, to name a few. Those aside, residents should feel safe with Pricher back in the role of chief, at least on an interim basis. Pricher is a proven professional, and while city officials have questioned his budgetary performance, his abilities as a fire chief have never been called into question.

Restoring, at least temporarily, some stability to the Cascade Locks department will help protect that city's residents, as well as avoid stretching the resources from neighboring districts or placing those responders at unnecessary risk.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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