The Keizer Fire District was organized on May 4, 1948 with 26 Volunteer Firefighters and Bill Johnson as Fire Chief. After about 6 months he resigned and John Mekkers was appointed Fire Chief, with Bernard Snook as Assistant Chief. The equipment at that time consisted of one 1948 Ford 500 gallon pumper, equipped with the latest type high pressure pump, at a cost of less than $10,000.00. This fire engine was housed under a lean to shed at the Keizer Food Lockers. This original Keizer fire engine was sold but later repurchased and fully restored by the Volunteers. Today this fully operational fire engine is proudly displayed at Fire District open houses and area parades. The Fire District answered its first alarm during the month of February 1949, which involved McDermots Variety Store. That year the Firefighters answered less than 30 calls, all of them fire calls.
On about the first of April, 1949, the Fire Station was completed at its present location. This original building was built to house three pieces of equipment. The back part of this building consisted of a large multi-purpose room with kitchen facilities to be used by the Firefighters and various other local community groups. The Fire Station was first remodeled in 1961 when the apparatus bay was enlarged and again in 1970, when a new multi-purpose room, kitchen and offices were added. For many years the Sheriff’s Department shared an office within the building as did the Keizer Water Department. In 1996, the original Fire Station was demolished so that a new Fire Station could be built in the same location. This new Fire Station will house eight pieces of fire or medical apparatus, offices, sleeping quarters, an exercise room, training rooms, two kitchens, and a multi-purpose room.
In January of 1950, the Fire District acquired a 1500 gallon tanker. Due to it’s size and the way it was designed, the Firefighters named it “Jumbo”. This equipment was purchased through the School District and cost $400.00. In October of 1953, a third piece of equipment was added. This piece of apparatus had a high pressure pump, and a number of compartments designed to carry salvage equipment, lights, a generator and air masks. Radios were first added to the fleet in 1953. I t wasn’t until 1979 that the first Rescue vehicle was purchased. This vehicle was the primary response vehicle for EMS calls.
On September 1, 1965, Duane Sanford was appointed Fire Chief and served in this capacity until his retirement in December 1988. Combined with his prior service as a Volunteer, he served the Keizer Fire District for a total of 36 years.
Barry Jennings, from Fairbanks, Alaska was hired in January of 1989 and served as Fire Chief until November of 1989.
In February of 1990, Greg Frank was hired as the Fire Chief for the District and retired on July 31st, 2007.
In March 2008, Jeff Cowan was hired as the Fire Chief for the District, and is currently in charge of the administration of the Keizer Fire District.
Keizer Fire District has mutual aid agreements with neighboring Fire Districts. This assures that any area in Marion County will have coverage from neighboring Departments if needed.
Keizer Fire District is also a partner with other neighboring fire departments, which enables the Keizer community to access an advanced life support ambulance 24 hours a day. Keizer Fire District is joined by Marion County Fire District #1 and Salem Fire Department and together serve this area.
The Fire District is involved in several fund raising events such as the annual Mother’s Day Breakfast, the Mt. Angel Oktoberfest, and a Christmas Breakfast. The proceeds from these events help to fund social activities for the District members as well as purchase miscellaneous equipment for the District.
The Fire District members have many social activities such as an annual picnic, Turkey Shoot, Sweetheart Banquet, and an annual Awards Reception to name a few.
The Fire District has become well known for two very successful open houses organized by the Volunteer and Career members. Each Fall during Fire Prevention Week, the Department has an Open House and then again in the Spring during EMS Week. Fire and medical equipment are displayed and there are always demonstrations for the public to enjoy.
Every Christmas season since 1963, the Fire District personnel take Santa Claus throughout the Keizer community to distribute candy canes to all the children.
The Keizer Fire District continues to see rapid growth in calls for service to the community. In 2015, Keizer Fire District responded to 4,511 alarms compared to 3,736 calls for service in 2012. This is an increase of 21% in just three years. Of the 4,511 alarms KFD responded to in 2015, 76% were medical related emergencies while only 2% were active fire incidents.
Keizer Fire District is served by 32 career employees. Administrative staff include a Fire Chief, Administrative Chief, Training Chief, Operations Chief, Deputy Fire Marshal, Public Education Specialist and an Office Manager. Emergency response personnel work a three platoon schedule of one-day on with two-days off. Each platoon has a Shift Captain, Shift Lieutenant and six firefighters.
In December of 2015, Keizer Fire District was awarded a Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant that allowed for the hiring of four firefighters that were trained to the Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) level. This grant is 100% federally funded and expires in December of 2017.
The District is also supported by 16 volunteer firefighters. These hard working, dedicated personnel have careers outside the fire service that include working in the fields of local government, information technology, nursing, banking, private business and some are even full-time students. These personal are assigned to a shift every sixth day.
The apparatus the District currently has includes four fire engines, one ladder truck, one brush truck, two Advanced Life Support ambulances, one reserve ambulance and one command vehicle.
The mission of the Keizer Fire District is to protect lives, property and the environment through quality emergency response and community involvement. This mission will be achieved by career and volunteer Professionals committed to excellence and dedicated to service in Fire Prevention, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Suppression, Hazardous Materials, and Natural Disaster response.