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The grant will allow the district to hire a recruitment and retention coordinator at no additional cost to taxpayers.

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS - The Molalla Fire District was awarded a federal grant to hire a recruitment and retention coordinator in charge of volunteers.

The Molalla Fire District's need for volunteers will get a helping hand after the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced recently that the district would get a four-year grant.

The $687,457 grant will fund a recruitment and retention coordinator who will be dedicated to recruiting new volunteers and retaining current members.

Molalla Fire District Lt. Byron Wakefield said that the timeline for hiring the new position is 90 days.

This new coordinator will review current volunteer efforts and explore new programs as well as manage current recruitment and retention programs. They will also be a mentor for professional development of current and future volunteers, developing a training schedule to meet the needs of volunteers while facilitating improvements in MRFPD #73 response capabilities.

The grant was awarded through the federal Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) program. This grant, from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will allow the Molalla Fire District to implement an aggressive and innovative recruitment program for new volunteers and hire a retention and recruitment coordinator, including salaries and benefits, at no increase cost to district taxpayers.

According to Wakefield, the SAFER grant is a comprehensive and competitive application. Many hours were invested with the grant application which thoroughly demonstrated the district's need for this retention and recruitment coordinator position as well as the programs to be implemented by this coordinator.

This application was then computer scored through FEMA's SAFER process, followed by a peer review process scoring which involved fire departments nationwide. The SAFER Grant was awarded to Molalla Fire District on Aug. 18.

Molalla Fire District is a combination department that provides both fire and emergency medical response as well as ambulance service to area residents. It has one paid chief, four paid lieutenants, seven paid firefighters/paramedics (three of these are funded through a previous SAFER Grant which expires in 2018 and three are funded by the district's local option levy passed by the voters in 2014), one-part time administrative clerk, 28 volunteer firefighters, 16 EMS volunteers and four support volunteers.

The district provides service to an area of more than 350 square miles, with an estimated population of 30,000 and is the second busiest fire district in Clackamas County.

Molalla Fire's call volume has increased dramatically in the last four years. In 2013, Molalla Fire District received 2,193 calls for service. In 2014, there were a total of 2,344 calls for service, which was a record call volume for the year. In 2015 the number of calls again set a record with 2,652 calls for service. In 2016 this record was again broken with 2,994 calls, an increase of 342 calls from the previous year. These calls for service included fires, rescues, and emergency medical related calls.

As the request for service continues to increase, Molalla Fire continues to seek innovative methods to increase their staffing levels to meet this increase.

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