Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Preparing for the Bell to Ring - Oregon's Firefighters

It's the time of year for firecrackers, sparklers and bottle rockets. With all this fun comes the increased chance a roaring red engine will make its way down your city street in a dash to keep the fireworks under control. In fact, between 2008 and 2012, 679 firework-related fires were reported in the month of July. Add to this heat, drought, and increased summer activity, and Oregon fire departments must be on guard. 

This is a good time to shine a light on the thousands of firefighters in Oregon, and the more than 260,000 incidents they responded to in 2012. Firefighters are responsible for much more than just fighting fires. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association, two out of three calls firefighters respond to are not for fire emergencies, but for medical emergencies.

The Oregon Employment Department estimates there were 3,715 paid firefighters in Oregon in 2012, and this number will rise to 4,076 by 2022. These numbers do not include volunteer firefighters. Across the nation, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates about 69 percent of firefighters nationwide are volunteer firefighters. While we don't have solid data on the number of volunteer firefighters in Oregon, if Oregon's percent of volunteer firefighters is near the nation's 69 percent, then we would expect there to be around 8,265 volunteer firefighters in Oregon in 2012. This gives us a total of 11,980 firefighters in Oregon's 316 fire agencies. As of 2012, there were 11,507 firefighters with Fire Service Professional certification in Oregon.

To learn more about the responsibilities, skills, and educational requirements for firefighters, check out Employment Economist Will Burchard's article!

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