Federal grant used to boost staffing at the Estacada Rural Fire Protection District

The Estacada Rural Fire Protection District was recently awarded a nearly half-million dollar, two-year grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for the sake of boosting its staffing levels and decreasing its response times to emergencies.

As a result, three new firefighters have already been hired and are on the job.

Adam Redmond, 26, may live in Southwest Portland, but he’s no stranger to Estacada.

Redmond volunteered with the fire department from 2009-12. Prior to that, he attended high school in Port Townsend, Wash., before attending the University of Oregon.

There, Redmond competed as part of that school’s track and field program. He graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in human physiology, and started working as a personal trainer in Southeast Portland.

Dale Clarke, 28, grew up in Sandy and graduated from that town’s high school in 2003. From 2006 until recently, Clarke volunteered at the Sandy fire department. He earned an associate’s degree in fire science from Salem’s Chemeketa Community College in 2010.

Clarke’s interest in firefighting began much earlier than any of that, though.

In 1998 and 1999, he took part in the Explorer programs in Sandy and Gresham. Those programs are geared toward high school students who are interested in fire science.

Chris James, also 28, graduated from McNary High School in Keizer and volunteered for that town’s fire department for a decade.

James earned an associate’s in paramedicine from Chemeketa, and was working as a paramedic in Stayton before accepting his position in Estacada. Like Clarke, James took part in the Explorer program.

The three new firefighters applied with the department last summer. Initial interviews were done in October, and they officially started on Feb. 23.

Most of the training process has thus far involved learning about the district’s policies, procedures and equipment. But that’s fine with James.

“I love learning new stuff,” he said.

Clarke, who was a Boy Scout, said that being a firefighter has “definitely been a lifelong goal.”

Despite his years of training and experience, Clark said there’s “still a lot to learn” about how Estacada’s department operates.

Redmond, Clarke and James are all expected to be fully up to speed and on the streets responding to calls very soon.

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