By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Experienced volunteer firefighters now have an easier path to volunteering for the Keizer Fire District thanks to a new Fast Track program.

In January, the Keizer Fire District began receiving a glut of applications from experienced firefighters requesting entry into the Keizer Fire District volunteer firefighter program. Historically, the District would eagerly accept such individuals and schedule them for the next recruit academy, but that window wouldn’t have opened until May or June.

Division Chief Hector Blanco attributed the rise in applications from experienced volunteers to the sluggish economy.

“I really think the economic state has impacted the candidates. Most of the applicants either moved into Keizer or plan to move into Keizer with friends or family,” he said. “I’m just happy they are considering Keizer, and providing us with an opportunity to better serve the community.”

Rather than waiting for the next recruit academy to begin, district officials created the Fast Track program.

“The Fast Track individuals are already certified and experienced to the Firefighter I or II level. Most understand firefighting operational techniques and jargon,” Blanco said.

Once accepted to the program, Fast Track volunteers have only to familiarize themselves with KFD-specific policies and procedures, which occurs during their volunteer shifts, Blanco said.

District officials prefer Fast Track applicants be pre-certified as emergency vehicle drivers for entry to the program.

Blanco is overseeing his third class of recruits, but the current one has the most experienced volunteers yet, four. Since instituting the Fast Track program, seven applications have been requested and five have been returned.

For more information on becoming a Volunteer Firefighter or joining as a Fast Track contact Chief Blanco at 503-390-9111 or e-mail hblanco@keizerfire.com