Fire district to buy houses for rural volunteer firefighters

To reduce emergency response times, Jackson County Fire District No. 3 will put manufactured homes outside of its rural fire stations to give volunteers and interns a place to sleep and nearby property owners a break on their fire insurance costs.

The agency has budgeted $420,000 to purchase up to six manufactured homes that will sit near its stations at Dodge Bridge, Agate Lake and Sams Valley, according to District 3 Chief Dan Petersen.

The goal is to give the volunteer staff a place to stay so the fire stations can be permanently staffed.

The stations have no sleeping quarters, which requires volunteers and interns to drive to the locations, suit up and roll out to calls when needed.

"We are obviously not happy with our response times in the rural areas, so we are hoping to do something about that," Petersen said.

The response times to these rural areas stand at approximately 12 minutes. Petersen wants to see that drop to seven or eight minutes.

"We were able to do that in the Gold Hill area when we started making sure that station was staffed most of the time," Petersen said.

Crown Manufactured Homes won the bid to provide the dwellings at $70,000 per unit.

Two of the three-bed, two-bath homes should be ready for delivery by September.

Colin Fagan, vice chairman of the District 3 board, said the homes are a cheaper alternative than refurbishing the fire stations to add code-approved living quarters.

"We think the manufactured homes will remain filled most of the time because we have college interns looking to build careers," Fagan said. "They will want to stay in the homes because it provides them good experience and a place to live."

The homes could also provide property owners in the rural areas a break on their fire insurance costs. The insurance adjusters want to see fire stations manned most of the time when charging for fire service protection, Fagan said.

"These insurance rating organizations will see that there is improved fire protection in these areas and this could bring down insurance costs in these rural districts," Fagan said.

The agency will not order all six of the homes at once, rather it will wait to send for them as the demand for the residences arises, Fagan said.

"We think that we won't have trouble filling these homes," Fagan said. "It's a good deal for our interns and volunteers and for the fire district as a whole."

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471 or

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