Alfalfa voters form fire district: What's next?

Community gets to work finding volunteers

POSTED: 12:22 PM PST December 24, 2013    UPDATED: 7:00 PM PST November 7, 2013 
ALFALFA, Ore. -

If a fire breaks out in Alfalfa, the residents are on their own to fight it.

"The previous method of fighting fires is just neighbor helping neighbor, and that's great -- except it comes at a high risk," said resident Bob Kathman said Thursday.

But not for much longer. A measure to create a fire district passed 70 to 30 percent Tuesday night.

"It should be mostly volunteer," Kathman said. "The only paid position that we plan to look for is a fire chief, and that will be a part-time position."

Residents will now pay a tax of $1.75 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

The price you pay will depend more upon the house and other improvements, rather than the amount of acres owned.

"Big landowners will pay more money, but by the same token, it's fairly equitable about how it's done," Kathman said.

Now, a board of directors will recruit volunteers and prepare a budget. An equipped building with a team should be assembled and ready to go by 2016.

"I have three young kids, so if I'm away and the oldest is watching the youngest, then it gives me piece of mind that they're going to be a little bit safer," said resident Justin Green.

Green works at the Alfalfa Store, and he's a big supporter of the measure.

"I've been telling a few people that the money will stay here in the community. Even smaller than Bend or Deschutes County, it will be more localized right here," Green said.

Now that things are moving forward, he's looking forward to volunteering for the fire district.

"If I can definitely help out, I'd like to help out," Green said.

In a place that's already all about community, some say this adds another welcome component -- a sense of security.

"It's exciting to be a part of that history, and hopefully it will only get better," Kathman said.

If you would like to help or volunteer, visit alfalfafiredistrict.org for more information.