East County Fire & Rescue staffing improves



East County Fire & Rescue improved staffing levels for January and February, according to an evaluation the agency conducted as part of progress reporting for two federal grants it received in 2011.

Average staffing during a 24-hour shift totaled 7.4 firefighters, including 3.5 from staffed crews and 3.9 from volunteer crews. The agency’s goal is to staff four firefighters per on-duty fire engine during each shift.

The grants ECF&R received are called Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response.

They allowed ECF&R, which has six fire stations covering 60 square miles of rural area north and east of Camas and Washougal, to expand its force. ECF&R has about 70 paid and volunteer members and receives about $1.4 million in tax revenue.

“The Fire District has lost $600,000 per year in revenue due to the downturn in the economy,” Chief Scott Koehler said in a statement. “The SAFER grants have allowed us to increase staffing at a time when operational funds have been evaporating. These grants have helped increase our staffing, reduced our response times and have made our community safer.”