History

 SCFD History 
 Sometime in 1942 or 1943 (no one is exactly sure of the date), a group of residents in a small farming community halfway between the growing cities of Eugene and Junction City, came together to form their own fire protection district. The District officially known as “Santa Clara Rural Fire Protection District”, covered an area just north of Lucky Lane, on River Road, to a point just south of Howard Avenue south on River Road in Eugene, Oregon.
    
    First Fire Chief for the District, 1943-1950, was Chief Harold Overgard. In 1950, Chief Overgard resigned from the district and for six months Paul Wilson became Chief. Chief Wilson found working fulltime and operating the District too difficult on his family and tendered his resignation the board. After a few months of discussion the board appointed Henry Mortensen as chief of the District. Chief Mortensen will lead the District through the 50’s eventually leaving the District in January of 1959.
       
    The early 1950’s brought new development to Santa Clara. Farm lands, which comprised most of the District, began sprouting housing developments in the core area of Santa Clara. The population was beginning to increase and so were the needs of District.
 At the end of the 50’s, when Chief Mortensen left the District, a firefighter who joined the District three years earlier was appointed chief. His name was Jack Lamb and he was appointed in January of 1959, he would be the Districts volunteer chief for one year.     

    Early 1960 the District noted the need for a full-time employee to handle district business on a regular basis. The Board of Directors hired Chief Jack Lamb as the District’s first paid Fire Chief. Chief Lamb would go on operating the District for the next 26 years.

The need for more room had been determined a must and in 1960, the District began construction of a new fire station at 2600 River Road. This new station located directly across the street from what was Station One; small by today’s standards but still in use, is large enough to house two fire engines, one rescue and ten to twenty volunteers. The flag first flew over the new station in 1961. The old building is currently owned by Santa Clara Water District and is not being used.
Fire Chief Jack Lamb
In 1964, the District bought its first new modern fire apparatus. The 1964 Ford fire engine could pump 1,000 gallons of water per minute, two to three times as much as old fire engines. It also carried 800 gallons of water in its tank; which at the time was almost the total amount carried by two other engines. This new apparatus was designed to handle the hard-to-control grass fires within the District.

     It was also about this time that the District began to change its shape as Eugene City began providing services to the area previously provided by Santa Clara Fire to the area south of Beltline. The first mention of Eugene annexing the Santa Clara area was written down in the monthly logs of the District, March 3, 1960.

    The seventies introduced some big changes to our district. Noticeably, a boom in major housing developments boosted population growth; as well as, our call volume. Secondly, in 1971, the district began responding to medical calls with a new Ford rescue van and sending volunteers to school for Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training. The Districts first vehicle was donated by the Military Department through the work of Howard Kirshner.
     The year 1972 saw purchase of the Districts third new fire truck. This allowed the District to take its two original fire engines out of service, ending their many years in our District. The 1946 Ford open cab still sits at Station Two where it has been restored and is currently used for fire prevention activities.

    Towards end of the 70’s, Jack and the Board made two major decisions to prepare District for the eighties. First, build a second station at the north end of the District? This station, completed in 1978 and funded by a Block grant supported by the Federal Government, helped to keep response times to a minimum and maximize protection to all areas of District. The secondary advantage came with the District gaining the opportunity to recruit much needed volunteers from a larger area.
SCFD Station 2, 1978
Fire Chief Skip Smith
The second decision was to create the position of Fire Marshal to assist Chief Lamb with running of fire district to meet our District’s high standards. April 1979, Skip Smith was hired to fill this position and serve as the Districts training officer.   

By the mid-eighties, our district advanced its high level of service by offering not only fire suppression and emergency care but an effective public education and prevention program. The newest fire truck was put into service in 1986, bringing total fleet of our district to: four fire trucks, two rescue trucks, one utility pickup, one fire prevention vehicle and one Chief’s vehicle.

     At the close of 1986, the District saw the retirement of Chief Jack Lamb. In his thirty years of service to this District, 26 of which were served as Chief, Jack brought this district from a small rural fire department to a modern suburban protection district.
   Starting in 1986 the newly appointed Chief, Skip Smith, continued the tradition of excellence to the citizens of Santa Clara by using cost saving measures to improve the Districts capabilities.

   To assist with District functions, Chief Smith in February of 1987, hired Mark Mikkelsen to handle training and Fire Marshal responsibilities. Retiring in 2009, Assistant Chief Mark Mikkelsen completed 19 years with the District.     
 
   As the call volume continued to increase, so did the work load for maintaining the Districts assets? As a result, the District has hired support personnel over the years to assist with the emergency responses, equipment upkeep and the general station maintenance.  
Assistant Chief Mark Mikkelsen
   In 2007, Chief Smith announced his retirement. After 21 years as Chief and 27 total years of service, Chief Smith retired and Chief Randal Wood was hired to the position. Promoting from the support position after Assistant Chief Mikkelsen's retirement, Chris Anderson, who started in 1997 as the firefighter support position, was promoted to the Districts training officer.

   Working as the District's new firefighter/support person, Chris Staniak is still maintaining a commitment to excellence.

     In 2011 the District made application to the Oregon Military Department for a $570,000 grant for seismic upgrade of station one. The District was awarded the grant and a major upgrade to station one was completed in the fall of 2013. The construction was meant to strengthen the structure during seismic activity. The benefit was a new station for the District.  
Significant Events

   Currently the Santa Clara Fire District looks a checker board with property protected by the District sporadically; while, the Eugene Fire Department protects the rest. This has created a situation in which neighbors, even next door to each other, may get either of two fire agencies to respond to their emergencies. Currently back yard burning for our fire district is permissible; while properties within the City limits of Eugene cannot; one example of many.   

   How this came to be is described below:   

   As far back as the mid to late sixties, the urban growth boundary was initiated and set into motion by both Lane County and the City of Eugene. Following ORS statute for procedure, both agencies conducted studies and decided that the northern border for the Urban Growth Boundary would run from the river, west on Beacon Drive and continue to Highway 99. This route then drops south back to the City creating the west side boundary and uses the river as the east boundary.

   During the mid-80’s, the Department of Environmental Quality was investigating a developing problem in Santa Clara. Noting that ground water in the Santa Clara area was becoming polluted by the many septic tanks used by area residents; a moratorium on new housing and septic tanks was placed into action in Santa Clara.  

   Sometime in the early 90’s, the City of Eugene, being the owner of the Sewage Treatment Plant, applied to the federal government for funding to expand the current water treatment system into Santa Clara in an effort to prevent further contamination of the ground water. A grant was awarded to the city and construction began in the mid-nineties. All homes in the Santa Clara area were required to connect to the system; which cost each home owner roughly $10,000. At the time of construction it was decided that houses which had existing septic tanks were not required to annex into the city and pay city taxes; whereas, all new construction connecting to the system would annex to the city, thereby paying city taxes.

   Today (2017) the same rules apply and all new construction connection to the system is annexed into the city.  

   Although the District has changed in size, configuration and population, just as Jack and Skip were, we are still committed to the community and look forward to continued service well into the future.
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