New fire station should improve response along McKenzie River

LEABURG, Ore. - Fire districts across the country are gearing up for fire season by training new personnel and getting new equipment.

But one east Lane Coutny fire district is gearing up by getting a whole new fire station.

The McKenzie Rural Fire District is moving its headquarters from Walterville to Leaburg.

"Our district is 40 miles long, and this is right on mile marker 20," said Darren Bucich, the McKenzie fire chief.

The old facility put much of the firefighting equipment next door to Springfield.

The new location will aid communities further up the McKenzie River corridor. The department is hosting an open house on Saturday.

"This puts us right in the center of the district, so we have a better response up river and anything that goes on other than the center of the district," said Bart Thompson, the department's chief mechanic.

The new building also means faster repairs for equipment: one garage spot will be dedicated to full-time maintenance. Before the new building, maintenance took place at various locations around the district.

"With the maintenance bay the way it is, I can pull a rig apart and that rig can stay in its place until I get the part," Thompson said, "and so I don't have to keep putting them back together and moving things around."

As Oregon faces a record dry year heading into summer, firefighters said they are ready for whatever comes this summer.

"We've already seen signs of fire danger being a little higher," Bucich said, "and the studies do show a higher risk this summer, but we are prepared for it."

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