Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Rural Oregon firefighters seek money for body cameras to document, discourage harassment

Facing hostility, firefighters in rural southwestern Oregon are raising money to buy body cameras to document and thus discourage such things as assaults and other illegal or inappropriate behavior.

Wolf Creek Rural Fire Protection District headquarters
"In what appears to be a first in Oregon, the Wolf Creek Rural Fire Protection District has launched a crowdfunding attempt to purchase 10 small Wolfcom Vision body cameras, which would cost a total of $2,750," reports Patricia Snyder of the Grants Pass Daily Courier. "A few weeks ago, Wolf Creek Fire Chief Steve Scruggs says, a man walked up to a firefighter and spit beer on her while she and an engine crew waited for law enforcement before going to a call."

Scruggs "suspects the department is being targeted because it is taking a stronger stance on illegal fire activity. When he arrived five years ago, he steered practices toward educating people about fire laws before taking action, but no longer. . . . Some people responded to educational efforts over the years. Others indicated they felt harassed. The department posted information that scofflaws promptly tore down. Scruggs figured enough time had gone into education. In May the department implemented a policy citing people who violate existing fire laws. . . . Some people appreciate that the law defines when and where you can burn debris on your property — an important tool in rural Oregon — but for others fire represents something else." As Scruggs said, “A lot of people use that for their recreation.”

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