PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Fire Bureau recently told 26 firefighters they might soon be out of a job. That's 26 fewer men and women to respond to emergencies.
But on Wednesday, the Bureau asked for, and the City Council approved, $6 million for a fire station upgrade.
The bureau told city commissioners that demands for rescue response on the Willamette River make that facility critical, and it's Portland's only fire station that has not been rebuilt to withstand a major earthquake.
The fire station that is at the east end of the Hawthorne Bridge was built in 1960. It was shut down in 1991 because it was so outdated.
The station reopened in 2009 to cut down river rescue response times after a mother threw her two children off the Sellwood Bridge. One child died.
Portland's fire chief said the new facility will be much more than an upgraded fire station.
"It has an educational display area within the station, along the Esplanade, and a meeting room to share with both community and city partners, which I think is key for the future of the stations," said Chief Erin Janssens. "So I believe this is going to be a solid, long-term investment in the safety of our community."
Firefighters from that station respond to 2,300 emergency calls a year, and 10 percent of those calls are for river rescues. The number of calls for help from that station is increasing.
The rebuilding of the fire station will take a little over a year. Meanwhile, firefighters are being relocated to a nearby, temporary facility until work is finished.
This is a picture of what the renovated facility will look like.