Fire Suppression

Protecting communities from the ravages of hostile fires is the traditional function of fire departments. The creation of the City of La Grande Fire Department in 1887 was the result of devastating fires that literally burned up large sections of town in the 1870’s and 80’s. After the establishment of the fire department and up to the present day, responding to, containing, and extinguishing fires has been the primary mission of the department. However, the number of structure fires we respond to each year is declining. This is a good thing and is due in part to the following:

  • The use and enforcement of modern building and fire codes.
  • The move away from heating with wood or coal
  • An increase in the use of working smoke alarms in homes.
  • A marked reduction in the number of people who smoke tobacco.
  • The use of safer appliances in our homes and an improved awareness of how to be fire safe.

Still, when fires do occur, all of the resources of the fire department are quickly deployed in an all out effort to stop and extinguish the fire where we find it.

When a report of a fire is received at the 911 dispatch center, the operators alert on duty firefighters to the emergency through a series of audible alarms heard in the fire station. The alert is also heard on radios in fire department vehicles and pagers carried by off duty career and part-time firefighters. The firefighters on duty respond immediately in a fire engine and an ambulance. The engine has a built in water pump with a 750 gallon tank. It also carries a large compliment of fire hose of various sizes, ladders, forcible entry tools, a positive pressure ventilation fan, and other equipment used by firefighters at fires.
When alerted of the fire on the pagers they carry, off duty career fire fighters respond to the fire station to pickup another engine and other fire department vehicles including our 101 foot aerial platform ladder truck. Part-time firefighters respond in their own vehicles directly to the address of the reported fire when they receive the alert page. Once on scene, they don their firefighting gear and assist in fire suppression and other fire ground operation as directed by the Incident Commander.  
Generally within approximately 4 minutes of the receipt of the initial alert, the crews on the engine and ambulance will arrive at the fire scene. A size-up of the situation will be made and one of the crew members, usually an officer, will assume the role of Incident Commander (IC) and begin directing fire ground operations. Fire ground operations will be conducted within a well defined incident action plan (IAP) developed by the IC. The IAP will address 3 incident priorities; #1 – life safety of possible victims and of the firefighters working the incident, #2 – incident stabilization and #3 – property conservation.
The first incident priority that must be addressed and continually monitored throughout the incident is Life Safety. To meet this priority for potential victims, firefighters will attempt to determine if anyone entrapped within the structure. They do this by conducting a rapid interior search for possible victims. The second incident priority-  Incident Stabilization - is met as firefighters attack and control the fire with water sprayed from fire hoses. The third priority - Property Conservation - is accomplished when the fire is extinguished and savable property has been protected through salvage and overhaul operations. When all three incident priorities have been met, the incident is over and the firefighters begin the process of cleaning and restoring their equipment in preparation for the next fire call.
The city of La Grande has mutual aid agreements with Cove Rural FD (Station 1), Elgin Rural FD (Station 2), Imbler Rural FD (Station 3), La Grande Rural FD (Island City Station 5), North Powder Rural FD (Station 6), and Union Rural FD (Station 7). These agreements provide additional man power and fire suppression apparatus in the event of a large structure fire event. Union county operates with a series of 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Box Alarm Assignments that determine what resources get sent, as requested by the IC
The duty crew that responds on the ambulance is initially assigned as a fire suppression crew along with the engine crew due to the immediate need to put out the fire and/or rescue victims. The ambulance will then be staffed with incoming personnel from the second, third, or fourth arriving apparatus and may also be staffed with EMT's from responding mutual aid agencies. In the event of multiple calls at the same time, such as a fire call and EMS call, it becomes the incident commander's responsibility to direct resources in the appropriate manor based on the nature and severity of the call. As you can imagine this can be extremely challenging and taxing to our available resources which at times are limited.