Josephine Co. commissioners to host town hall for potential fire district

JOSEPHINE COUNTY, Ore. – Josephine County hoping to revitalize plans for a fire district in unprotected parts of the county.

The county has been looking at adding a fire district funded by property taxes for decades now.

Soon, county officials will be hosting a town hall about it’s latest plans.

“When it comes to the fire standards I actually think we need to create the fire district, a board needs to be elected and then that board has to look at the standards because there has to be an analysis done on what services we’re going to provide,” Josephine County commissioner Herman Baertschiger said.

In July, Baertschiger discussed needing a fire district in the county.

This came as ‘County Fire Department’ a privately owned company, closed its doors.

Leaving the county with one fire district, Rural Metro Fire, to serve 350 square miles of unincorporated Josephine County.

“Because we went only to 1 fire department,” Baertschiger said. “It’s pretty hard to tell the citizens that they have to go do business with one fire department with no sideboards on it. Right now it’s a monopoly and we can’t participate in a monopoly.”

Earlier this month, commissioners decided to temporarily suspend a portion of Josephine County code regarding fire safety options for those obtaining development permits in the county.

Commissioners say the suspension allows the county time to develop a plan for a fire district.

“At the end of the day what complicates all of this is not having a fire district,” Baertschiger said. “But we got to find some other remedy to get us by.”

A town hall to discuss the fire district will be held on Thursday.

The county said it would cover unprotected areas of Josephine County and other fire district boundaries to provide taxpayer-funded fire protection services.

On three previous occasions, a proposed plan was shot down by voters, with the most recent being on the 2021 ballot.

The town hall will be located at ‘North Valley High School’ on Thursday starting at 7 p.m..

Rural Metro tells us they have not been contacted by the county about the idea of a fire district, nor were they invited to the town hall.

I reached out to Josephine County commissioners today, but they were unavailable to comment.

Right now, it’s not clear how the proposed fire district would be similar or different than plans from years past.

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NBC5 News reporter Zachary Larsen grew up in Surprise, Arizona. He graduated from Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. At ASU, Zack interned at Arizona Sports 98.7FM and Softball America. During his Junior year, Zack joined the ASU Sports Bureau. He covered the Fiesta Bowl, the Phoenix Open and major basketball tournaments. Zack enjoys working out, creative writing, music, and rooting for his ASU Sun Devils.
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