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1910 Fire truckThe Sandy Fire Department was formed in the 1930's when the City purchased a Ford Model T chemical truck. Recently discovered documents indicate an organized fire department as early as 1912 had pulled chemical fire engines. In later years, with motorized fire apparatus, whenever the whistle blew, whoever happened to be around took the truck and went to the fire. The old Ford was hard starting; therefore, it was placed on a ramp on property, which is next to Smith's Garage on Pioneer Blvd. When the whistle blew, the chock blocks under the wheels of the truck were pulled, the truck would roll down the ramp and in that fashion would be jump-started. Sadly, during one of the few fires in those days, a Firefighter was run over and killed by the truck during one of those starting attempts. Old-timers who are still in the Sandy area tell us that whenever Firefighters came back from an alarm, their clothing would be full of holes from the Sulfuric acid that when mixed with Sodium Bicarbonate created a pressurized extinguishing agent in the tank on the truck.
Engine 78Around 1940, the Department was organized under the Sandy Rural Fire Commission, a non-profit organization run entirely by the Volunteers. Funds were received mostly from donations, fund-raising events and charges for ambulance transportation that was provided by the Commission. However, the City did budget money for the purchase of a fire truck, which was limited to City use only. This truck was built by the Howard-Cooper Corporation of Portland on a 1940 Chevrolet chassis at a cost of $3,476.71. Up until 1973, this unit was still in service as a first line piece of equipment. It was placed in service temporarily in 1975 and did actually respond to and pump water at a fire. Since then, the unit has been retired and put on reserve status as Engine 78. The Volunteers have restored it to its original condition. The unit has been displayed in numerous Musters and parades around the State. It is also used by our Volunteers in Muster competitions. The Muster Team has won several State Championships as well as the West Coast Championship.
Sandy History The City truck was limited to City fires. Because of this, Volunteers sponsored several fund-raising projects to obtain money for a rural fire truck. The first $500 was used to purchase a 1941 Ford chassis on which the Volunteer built a body complete with a 350 gallon water tank, a 350 gpm PTO pump, a hose bed and small cabinets. This unit was also in service until 1973, at which time it was purchased by the Anderson Brothers Wrecking Company and donated to OMSI to be sold at their annual auction.
In 1961, the department was reorganized under Oregon State Statutes as the Sandy Rural Fire Protection District No. 72. The Sandy Rural Fire Commission continued to operate the ambulance as a non-profit community service. The non-profit ambulance operation continued until approximately 1974. At that time, it became a private company and has remained as such since.
The original Sandy Station was built over a period of six years beginning in about 1963, with completion of the building in about 1969. During this time, the Fire District had little money for such an undertaking. Mr. Ed Perren, a local building contractor in the Sandy area, donated his time in constructing the Station. In addition, he advanced the District a good deal of the money that was needed to purchase materials that went into the building. The total cost of the original Station was about $24,000, including property.
Sandy Fire Department Main StationIn 1981, a major remodeling project was completed that doubled bay space, added sleeping facilities, classrooms, office space, a combination hose and drill tower, and parking space. The present building has both full fire alarm and sprinkler systems. The cost of remodeling, including land purchase, was approximately $665,000.
Lyle Seaman was appointed the first Fire Chief in 1942. He served as a Volunteer Chief until about 1967, when he was appointed as the first full-time paid Fire Chief of the District and served in that position until 1972 when he retired. Chief Seaman devoted 32 years of his life to the Sandy Fire District. There is no doubt that if it were not for his efforts, the Sandy Fire District would not be as we know it today.
In 1972, Bob Rathke was selected as Fire Chief from a nation-wide search. Chief Rathke added much to the Sandy Fire District foremost was a goal for the future. His new ideas and foresight led to a comprehensive plan for Sandy Fire District. During his tenure, the District added two substations, remodeled the Main Station and added a greatly enhanced Volunteer program. Sandy Fire District has received nationwide recognition as an excellent staffed and cost effective combination department. Chief Rathke reached his goal for Sandy Fire in 1985 and resigned to pursue new goals in private business.
The first career Firefighters employed by the District were appointed in July 1972. Career Firefighters are employed under a policy that requires them to have secondary skills that are used in the management and operation of the District. Our present total employment includes 34 Volunteers, 11 Full-time Career, 2 Part-time Battalion Chiefs, 2 part-time employees and 1 civilian employees.
In 1985, Gary Connelly was promoted to Chief after serving 6 years as the Assistant Chief/Training Officer of the Sandy Fire District. His knowledge of the District, community, Volunteer Firefighters and apparatus allowed him to start where ex Chief Rathke left off and to continue improving the quality and cost effectiveness of Sandy Fire District No. 72. Chief Connelly's expertise in fire apparatus gained him a position on the State of Oregon Fire Apparatus Standards Committee.
Fire truck with reflection of a fireIn November 1990, the citizens of Sandy Rural Fire District overwhelmingly demonstrated their support and faith by approving a new tax base. Passage of this tax base enabled the Fire District to implement the recommendations of a new 10 year Citizens' Plan. The Citizens' Plan resulted from hard work by members of the Sandy community who spent many hours in research and discussion as they assessed the emergency needs of the District population. The Citizens' Plan for the 90's emphasizes improvements to the volunteer program, the addition of staff to provide adequate manning, the adoption of a fire code, and replacement of major apparatus.
In April 1995, the Dover Substation was relocated to Firwood and Pagh Rd. It replaced the original Dover Station which was over 20 years old and sat on leased land. The new location and size accommodate the increasing call volume and need for services in that response area.
In June 1997, Gary Connelly retired as Fire Chief of Sandy Fire District #72, completing 25 years of service. He left the apparatus, staff, buildings, and finances in a high state of readiness. The Chief's position was offered to James Haugsness of Colorado, who took command in June 1997. Jim Haugsness resigned as Fire Chief in January 1999. Battalion Chief Ron Smith was Acting Fire Chief from January 1999 to January 2000.
In February of 2000 Gary McQueen was hired as Sandy’s Fire Chief. Gary was a member of the District’s High School Auxiliary program beginning in 1976 and became a volunteer member of the District in 1980. In 1983, he began a 17-year career with the Lake Oswego Fire Department while continuing to volunteer and work part-time as a Battalion Chief for Sandy Fire. He has served both departments in several ranks. He has an Associates Degree in Fire Science, Paramedic certification, and is currently enrolled in the Executive Fire Officer Program at the National Fire academy in Emmitsburg , Maryland .
Sandy Fire District 72 17460 Bruns Ave Sandy, OR   97055 Phone: 503-668-8093 Fax: 503-668-7941