Skip to main content

Department History

May contain: car, vehicle, transportation, indoors, wheel, and machine


1959: The district was organized covering 13 square miles by the Walterville and Thurston Communities. The first station was built at the junction of Millican Drive and the McKenzie Highway with volunteer labor and donated materials.


1961: The first fire truck, a 1961 Ford 750 GPM front mount/ 1000 gallon tank engine, was purchased new from Western States Fire Apparatus.

1962: The district and auxiliary jointly purchased the district’s first two SCBAs.

1959-1971: Thurston-Walterville Rural Fire Protection District was an all volunteer organization. During this time Jim Cane served as Fire Chief.

1966-1967: The Camp Creek and Deerhorn areas were annexed. During that time a plectron alerting system was purchased and put into service.


1970: Women were admitted as firefighters, one of the first departments to do so. Six women trained in the initial group.

1972: Volunteer firefighter Jim Nylund became the district’s first paid full time Fire Chief.

1973: The Camp Creek property was purchased for $500 for a future building of a fire station.

1976: The beginning of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) for the department. The volunteers modified and equipped a Bell Telephone truck as the district’s first rescue truck. That first year the district responded to 32 medical calls.

1977: The Walterville station was expanded to help house the growing fire districts fleet of apparatus and a training room was added.

1978: The Walterville station expansion was completed. The volunteers demolished an old fish hatchery and used the lumber to construct the addition.

1978: Also this year the district did a major annexation to include the Leaburg and Vida areas. The district successfully went to the voters for a $380,000 bond to purchase four engines and build the Camp Creek, Leaburg and Vida Stations.

1979: The Camp Creek, Leaburg and Vida Stations were completed. The volunteer ranks rose from 10 to approximately 40. This was the year that the fire department changed its name to McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District (RFPD) to reflect the additional coverage areas.


1980: Chief Nylund left the department. For the next nine months Captain Tom McBride served as Acting Chief. The EMT-1 Program was introduced to the fire district. Four members were originally certified.

1980: Camp Creek area was annexed to the intersection of Marcola Road and Camp Creek Road.

1981: Terry Jack was hired as Fire Chief.

1982: Voters approved a new tax base to assure that the district would have adequate funding for future growth. The EMS program was stepped up. The district was one of three selected in the country to pilot the defibrillation program. This was also the year our Public Education Program was started.

1984: The First Heart Monitor was purchased,

1985: The lower part of Upper Camp Creek Road was annexed.

1986: A part time Administrative Assistant was hired as support staff.

1987: Dale Ledyard was hired as the district’s Fire & Life Safety Specialist. His title was later changed to Firefighter Maintenance Specialist. By 1990 he was the district’s Training Officer.

1988: Nimrod RFPD merged the McKenzie RFPD adding one fire truck and 10 volunteers.


1990: Voters approved a new tax base to allow the fire district to hire an additional firefighter and start capital replacement funds.

1995-1996: McKenzie Fire & Rescue was awarded the” Most Innovative Department Safety Program” from the Oregon Fire District Directors Association (OFDDA).

1996: Firefighter Public Educator was hired.

1996: The fire district received a new ISO rating of four. This meant McKenzie Fire & Rescue was one of the few volunteer fire departments in the country with a four rating and no hydrant system.

1999: With the retirement of Fire Chief Terry Jack, Dana Burwell served as Acting Fire Chief for two years.


2000: The department changed its name to McKenzie Fire and Rescue from McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District (RFPD)

2000: Voters passed a ten year local option levy for 70 cents per thousand of property value to fund fire station remodeling and apparatus purchases.

2000: The establishment of the Life Jacket Lending Program for the McKenzie River Valley. The program is a cooperative effort between the McKenzie River Guides Association and McKenzie Fire & Rescue.

2001: Dale Ledyard was promoted to Fire Chief by the Board of Directors and Dana Burwell returned to his position as Assistant Chief.

2001: Large annexation of nine areas including Baxter Acres and McKenzie Acres.

2001: Special Districts Association of Oregon Innovative Program Award was presented to the department for the Life Jacket Lending Program.

2003-2004: McKenzie Fire & Rescue was awarded the” Most Innovative Department Safety Program” from the Oregon Fire District Directors Association (OFDDA).

2003-2004: The16-2 Camp Creek Fire Station was remodeled.

2004: The Red Blotzer Award was created in memory of the late Red Blotzer. This distinctive award is bestowed to individuals who personify the work ethic and commitment Red Blotzer gave to this community during his many years of service to McKenzie Fire & Rescue.

2005-2006: The 16-4 Vida Fire Station was remodeled.

2006: Large annexation of seven areas including MJ Chase and Buck Point Way

2007-2008: McKenzie Fire & Rescue’s Leaburg Training Center structure and grounds were completed.

2008: Fire Chief Dale Ledyard retired and Assistant Chief Dana Burwell was appointed Interim Fire Chief again.

2009: Fire Chief Darren Bucich was hired on February 16, 2009. Dana Burwell returned to his position as Assistant Chief.

2009: McKenzie Fire & Rescue’s 50 Year Anniversary.


2010: On May 18, 2010 District Voters passed a ten year local option levy for 45 cents per thousand of property value to continue fire station remodeling and equipment upgrades.

2010: On June 1, 2010 Lieutenant David Sherwood became the Training Officer. On July 1, 2010 Bart Thompson was hired as the Maintenance Officer.

2010: On December 1, 2010 Lieutenant David Sherwood was promoted to Captain.

2011: On January 1, 2011 Bart Thompson was promoted to Lieutenant. On March 1, 2011 the department hired Matt Brooks as a staff firefighter, bringing the number of department career firefighters to four.

2012: In September of 2012, McKenzie Fire & Rescue launched its Student Program offering 24 hour coverage to district residents while providing education assistance to 6 college students.

2013: In May of 2013, construction was completed of the new Leaburg Fire Station and District Headquarters. The staff moved from Station 1 to the more centrally located Station 3 in Leaburg. The new station has 6 bays including a maintenance bay, shop, and workout room.

2014: With 29 years of service, Pat Cane retires as Administrative Assistant. Dulcy Pierce is hired as her replacement.

2015: In September of 2015, the department hired Cody Johnson as a firefighter. In December, volunteer Clayton Canfield was hired bringing the number of deparment career firefighters to six.

2016: On January 1st, 2016, Firefighters Brooks, Johnson, and Canfield are moved to 24 hour ABC shifts. For the first time in district history McKenzie Fire & Rescue begins providing 24 hour coverage, 7 days a week. Volunteer Jeff Fox is promoted to Lieutenant. McKenzie Fire & Rescue was awarded a grant for a new water tender.

2017: FF Cody Johnson was promoted to Lieutenant, volunteer Patrick Anderson was promoted to Lieutenant, and Bart Thompson was promoted to Deputy Chief. McKenzie Fire & Rescue was awarded a seismic grant from the State of Oregon for the Walterville Station. A new engine was ordered for 16-2 and is slated to be delivered Spring 2018.

2018: The new Pierce engine was delivered to 16-2. The Pierce Ladder truck was sold to Knappa Fire District. FF Matt Brooks was promoted to Lieutenant.

2019: The seismic upgrade and remodel project at the Walterville Station is completed.


2020: The COVID-19 pandemic was declared, and our buildings were closed to the public. The Holiday Farm Fire, an unprecedented wind-driven wildfire, started on September 7, 2020, and destroyed over 173,000 acres, 420+ homes (274 in District), and nearly three times as many outbuildings and shops. Tragically, one person died during this fire. The District was awarded the 2019 SAFER grant for the Student Program and numerous COVID-19 grants. The district placed its first 15,000-gallon water tank at Camp Creek Church. The tank is to be used as a water source in an emergency.

2021: The COVID variants prevented the buildings from being open to the public. The district placed two 15,000-gallon water tanks, one at Walterville Elementary and one at 16-3 (Leaburg Station) to be used as a water source in an emergency. The district is partnering with Weyerhaeuser for a fourth site on Deerhorn Road.

2022: The fourth water tank was installed at the Weyerhaeuser 4000 Road and Deerhorn Road intersection. Plans were made to install a fifth water tank east of Leaburg at McKenzie Bible Fellowship. The district received strategic investments and grants for the Disaster Relief Logistics Center, to be constructed in the field east of the Library building in Leaburg. Ausland Group was selected for the design-build project. Firefighter Matt Brooks resigned his position and Firefighters Carmen Johnson and Austin Loshbaugh were hired.