JOHN DAY - The Grant County Fire Defense Board will hold a bi-annual meeting 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, at John Day City Hall meeting room.

Oregon State Fire Marshal Bob Garrison will attend as well as Donna Disch from the Fire Marshal's office, who will discuss protection of structures from wildfire.

Recent minutes from the Grant County Fire Defense Board stated that "the State Fire Marshal's office has been moving toward eliminating the use of the Conflagration Act to provide structural fire protection in areas that are not protected by a structural fire-fighting department. The perception is that folks who choose to live outside Rural Fire Protection districts, and who elect to not have fire protection, should not receive free fire protection for their structures."

There has been much confusion and discussion on this subject, according to Grant County Rural Fire Defense Board Chief Jim Sullens. Suggested options include having all lands go into some type of rural fire protection or classifying structures as Zone 2 lands and having Grant County contract for fire protection services for those structures. Both OSFM and the Oregon Department of Forestry indicate that structural fire protection responsibility lies with the county judge when those structures are outside Rural Fire Protection districts and cities.

Grant County Judge Dennis Reynolds has, in the past, indicated he is not in support of any more Rural Fire Protection districts. Fire officials attributed this stance to a tax cap, which has reportedly blocked a Rural Fire Protection District at Monument. A grant to establish that Rural District was secured by Roy Peterson some time ago. The owners of the structures are very interested in getting this Rural District in place, especially after experiencing the threat of fire in the 2001 Monument Complex, fire officials said.

A goal of the upcoming meeting is to search for viable options for the public of Grant County who have an interest in fire protection in unprotected areas. All interested persons are invited to attend.

For more information, call Chief Jim Sullens at (541) 820-4360.

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