Lebanon Local – 2023 Lebanon Fire District Board Election

Editor’s Note: The May 16 election is when Oregonians will elect people to oversee local special districts – schools, fire and ambulance response

, cemeteries and others that provide services to urban and rural residents.

Lebanon Local sent the questionnaire below to both candidates for re-election to the Lebanon Fire District. Howard “Dale” White is running for Position 3 and Robert Taylor is running for Position 5. Neither has an opponent on the ballot. Taylor responded with his thoughts on our questions, as displayed below. 

Robert Taylor, 53

Robert Taylor

Years in Lebanon? 35 

Education: GED from LBCC

Professional Background/Work Experience: 1996-1997 Volunteer firefighter with Lebanon Fire Department, 1997-2001 Oregon Department of Corrections, 2001-2018 Linn County Sheriffs Office Retired.

Political Experience/Affiliations: Republican

Other Community Involvement/Affiliations (outside of activities/experience already listed): I have been on the Lebanon Fire Board now for eight years. Four of those years I have been serving as Board President.

Family: I was born in Lebanon. Moved to Lebanon area in 1980. My wife Valarie Taylor was born and raised in Lebanon. We were high school sweethearts and were married in 1991. We have three children and three grandkids.

Contact: [email protected]

Why do you want to be an Lebanon Fire District Board member?

I want to give back too and serve my community. After all the years of public service I still enjoy giving back what I can to the public. I want to make sure that our public funding is spent the way our community is told its spent.

What sets you apart as a candidate for LFD voters?

– Volunteer Firefighter

– Law enforcement background

– Board member for eight years

– Well established in the community

What would you consider your primary responsibility/ies to voters as a Fire Board member if you are elected?

I feel that my primary responsibilities to the voters and citizens of the Lebanon Fire District are to advocate for continuing the high level of emergency services to the community that they have come to rely on and do it in a fiscally responsible and professional manner.

What do you think are the particular challenges that need to be addressed in the fire district?

The Lebanon Fire District is facing similar challenges that we are seeing with other fire agencies across Oregon. As a combination fire district, we are made up of both volunteer and career firefighters that serve 134 square miles of fire district and 419 square miles of EMS ambulance area.

Fire agencies are facing unprecedented workforce shortage of volunteers and career firefighters. Volunteerism has declined over the last several years; Many career firefighters are moving to larger metropolitan areas and there are fewer to take there place. This workforce shortage and our community’s rapid growth, increase calls for service, including inter-facility transfers from Lebanon Community Hospital have placed a significant strain on our ability to meet the needs of our community.

A lot of Fire Board work revolves around funding. In general, how do you view the district’s position in this area? If you would like to change anything, how would you do so?

The fire board members are stewards of public funding. The district has enjoyed a strong financial position for several years. However, like many agencies, the increased costs of personnel, fuel, equipment, and services have been quickly outpacing our existing revenue projections.

One of the largest financial challenges the district faces is with our ambulance service. Insurance coverage, such as Medicare and Medicaid, reimburse the district below the cost of providing emergency treatment and transport. We need to work with our community partners to look for ways to reduce costs, increase revenues, or adjust services if necessary.

What other improvements would you like to see to LFD’s operations/personnel/services?

We need to hire more personnel to properly serve our community. The problem is the increasing costs as stated above. The LFD operates five stations and we have not added any additional personnel for several years. We are below national standard established by the NFPA for preferred staffing on engines, trucks, and rescues. A basic residential structure fire requires 14 personnel for an adequate response. Many times we are unable to meet those requirements due to simultaneous calls for service in the community. This places a demand on our neighboring fire agencies as we must ask for mutual aid more often. Which they are in the same situation as us.

In addition to any of the issues already touched on, what do you consider the biggest challenge(s) facing Lebanon Fire District? As briefly as possible, how would you address it/those?

The Lebanon Fire District finds itself unable to keep pace with the demands for emergency services to the community. Revenue stagnation and increase costs of business are placing the district at a breaking point. The board, along with staff and the community will have to explore ways in the immediate future to increase revenue to sustain the demands for emergency services.