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Measure aims for enhanced fire station, services in Sprague River area

Measure 18-118 would provide $70,000 more per year to the Klamath County Fire District 3 to renovate the current station (pictured) and provide certainty of fire suppression services in the Sprague River area and west of Beatty.

A local measure on the November ballot aims to give residents west of Sprague River and Beatty more certainty when it comes to fire response.

Measure 18-118 would annex areas west of Beatty and Sprague River into the fire response area for Klamath County Fire District No. 3, in addition to raising funds to remodel the current station, located at 23530 Sprague River Road in Sprague River, and boost fire suppression capabilities in the area.

The owner of a $100,000 house would pay roughly $98 per year for the service if the measure passes.

Brandon Friend, a Fire District 3 firefighter and organizer of the measure, said it would raise roughly $70,000 more per year for fire service, a significant increase over the $14,500 per year currently provided by the tax base.

Friend said the areas west of Beatty and Sprague River were covered by the Sprague River Volunteer Fire Department until about 2009-2010, when it ceased operations. Klamath County Fire District No. 3 provides those services from the current station.

“Fire District 3 was always providing mutual aid to (Sprague River Volunteer Fire), so we just took over fire suppression response ... not receiving any taxes,” he said, noting individuals have made private donations.

But with fuel costs and requests for service going up, Friend believes the measure is necessary to continue, and improve, fire response.

“We’d be able to increase our response capabilities with newer apparatus,” Friend said.

A “yes” vote on the measure would provide fire protection to the district, regardless of whether a wildfire or structure fire.

The measure would also fund renovations to the building, which isn’t tall enough to store some engines inside. Funding would help restructure the back of the station to incorporate a training and meeting area that could be used as an incident command post for large fire incidents. The renovations would help the station fulfill state requirements that they are currently unable to meet.

“Our turnouts (aren’t alllowed to) be in our meeting room, which they currently are,” Friend said. “We’d be able to move our turnouts into a ventilated storage area and be able to provide the OSHA-required stuff that we don’t have.”

Approval of the measure would also allow the station to send volunteers to better training.

A “no” vote would mean fire services in the areas of Godowa Springs and Yellowjacket Springs Roads and west of those locations wouldn’t be guaranteed fire suppression services. The financial outcome for individuals in the coverage area without the measure could be a significant increase in cost for fire response, if those services are available, according to Friend.

“We’re talking upwards of close to $1,000 for a fire service,” Friend said.

It’s not the first time there has been an effort to annex the areas into the district’s fire suppression coverage.

Friend said a previous effort to get a measure on the ballot didn’t collect enough signatures in time.

“It could not get on the ballot,” Friend said. “I decided, ‘Let’s make it happen this year.’”

Friend said this time around, organizers of the measure had most of the signatures they needed before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Once restrictions were in place, Friend promoted the measure heavily on social media. Despite missing getting the measure on the May ballot, he collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot in November.