Verifying Fire Protection District Coverage and Sufficient Driveway Access to Your Property

This is part 3 of an installment series discussing public roads not maintained by the county. Though it is in reference to maintenance of roads, two issues discussed are important to everyone living on rural properties: verifying you are located within a fire protection district, and making sure that there aren’t issues with your driveway for the fire trucks to get in should a fire occur. See this post should you be interested in reading through the whole maintenance road issue.

Did you know that not all property located within the State of Oregon is located within a fire protection district? As far as I know, the majority of property located in or near cities does fall within a fire protection district, but there are many rural areas that do not. This is something that you should always pay attention to when purchasing a new piece of real estate.

I stopped into my local Fire Department today to ask them some various questions I had been pilling up. One of them included figuring out how to tell whether or not a property is located within a fire protection district. I asked the firemen that were present how a potential buyer for a property figures out whether or not their property is protected.  I asked them if this was easy to determine on the county website and whether or not it was accurate? They recommended that buyers simply stop into the most local fire station and ask them directly.

Locally, they said that they aren’t aware of any property around here that is not located within a fire protection zone. But – and this is a big but – private timber properties, and the like, are not protected by the local fire station. The responsibility lies with the landowner. In Beavercreek, we have lots of timber property, including land publicly owned by the BLM. They said that of course if there was a fire located on BLM and the like, they would be there responding, evacuating neighbors and whatnot, and that it is likely that several jurisdictions would be involved. We didn’t get into what the process would actually look like should a fire occur, but i got the sense that the response to fire on timber property would be significantly different than on private property. Those of us living close to timber areas should probably pay close attention here.

Next I moved on to my questions about public roads not maintained by the county, and whether or not the fire department has rules regarding how the roads are maintained. The firemen there seemed unfamiliar with this issue – and said that I should place more pressure on the county to maintain our roads better. They were genuinely puzzled in learning that the county does not maintain a lot of “public” roads, and that the responsibility lies with the nearby property owners.

They said as far as they know they do not have jurisdiction in requiring any sort of road standards. But  said that they do often have trouble with access in some “private” driveways (my guess, based on their response above, is that many of these are actually public roads), and that they have to bring in the hose really long stretches in order to reach a fire because they cannot get their trucks close enough to the homes. I got the impression that they would do everything that they can, but access issues are likely to slow down the response.

They said sometimes the fire marshall will catch wind of hazardous access points, issuing notification to homeowners that there is access issues with their properties. I mentioned that our area would like to put a new road agreement in place, and that it would be wonderful if the fire marshall could give our area a look, to verify that there aren’t any access issues (especially since BLM land is directly behind my house). We’d like to know that information prior to putting a new agreement in place.

They told me to call the main telephone number for “fire prevention” on the fire department website, and that the fire marshall will have more information.  I will report back when I find out more.

Installment 4 is located here.

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