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 Keizer Fire District continues to see rapid growth in calls for service to the community. In 2019, Keizer Fire District responded to 5,679 alarms compared to 5,506 calls for service in 2018. This is an increase of 3.1% in one year. For those of you doing the 10 year challenge, we ran 3,866 calls in 2009. This is an increase of 32% in 10 years. Of the 5,679 alarms KFD responded to in 2019, 80% were medical related emergencies while less than 1.2% (71) was active fire incidents.
Keizer Fire District is governed by our Fire District Board of Directors. This five member Board are the elected officials of Keizer Fire District. The Fire District is not part of the City of Keizer and is a stand-alone agency. This is why we are a “Fire District” and not a “Fire Department”. Board Members are elected by the Keizer Fire District community. Each volunteer Board Member serves a four year term.
Keizer Fire District is served by 38 career employees. Administrative staff includes our Fire Chief, a Training Chief, an Operations Chief, a Facilities & Maintenance Chief, a Financial Manager, a Deputy Fire Marshal, a Fire and Life Safety Specialist, a Information Technology Specialist, and an EMS Billing Manager. Our Emergency response personnel work a three-platoon schedule of 24 hours on and 48 hours off. Each platoon has a Division Chief, (the Training, Operations, & Maintenance Division Chiefs) a Shift Captain, a Shift Lieutenant, and six Firefighters.
The District is also supported by 20 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 fire and paramedic students. These personnel are also assigned to shift work.
The District currently includes the following apparatus; four fire engines, one ladder truck, two brush trucks, three Advanced Life Support ambulances, a squad (rescue unit), one reserve ambulance, one command vehicle, and staff support vehicles.
The Fire District has become well known for a very successful open house organized by the Volunteer and Career members. Each fall during Fire Prevention Week, the Fire District has a Public Safety Open House. Our vehicles, fire and medical equipment and other public safety agencies show their services. There are multiple displays and 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 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.