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Cedar Mill News
Volume 3, Issue 3


March 2005

Fire! Fire!

by Nancy Olson, co-author, Cedar Mill History

Fire Department members rehearsed their act before heading into Portland Saturday evening for the Merrykhana Parade. The 1936 Chevrolet they used in the parade was the first truck owned by the Cedar Mill Rural Fire Protection District. Dick Schmidt reclines on front bumper while Ed Wunderlich, Bill Doty, and Eldon Hart grace front of truck. On top, Gerald Thomas prepares to do John Glover a hard knock on his fire hat. The group failed to win a prize in the parade. (from the Greater Westside News, 1967, thanks to Carole Clarke)

Fire protection, like other services in Cedar Mill, began on a small scale and improved over the years. Protection was originally provided by the Beaverton Fire Department, formed in 1924 and located about 4 miles from the area.

Substantial improvements in service occurred in 1942 when residents of the community formed the Cedar Mill Fire Patrol. In addition to providing more immediate fire protection, the patrol stood ready to handle possible emergencies arising from World War II enemy attacks. The department, a volunteer project, was initiated largely by George Foege and Dave Ediger, who co-owned the Cedar Mill Garage.

A 1936 Chevrolet 1-ton pickup truck was purchased from the Oregon Truck Wrecking Company and, with the aid of residents, was converted into a fire engine. Adolf Neubert donated a large metal water tank which was altered and welded to the bed of the vehicle under the supervision of Ediger and Foege.

Foege became the fire chief of the small operation, aided by a group of volunteer fire fighters. The men were alerted by a telephone that rang simultaneously in the garage and in the homes of several of the volunteers. When it became necessary, additional men were telephoned to join the crew.

By 1946, the service was expanded when the Cedar Mill Fire patrol became the Cedar Mill Rural Fire Protection District. The reorganization included a tax levy imposed within the newly established boundaries. A large service area was encompassed: north and east to the Multnomah County line, south to Walker Road and east to NW 185th Avenue.

The tax funds provided an additional fire truck, purchased from the Neep Fire Equipment Company in Cornelius at a cost of $7,500. Since the community had no fire station, one truck was stored in the Cedar Mill Garage while the other was parked across the road behind the Wolf Creek Water District office.

In 1947, the district board of commissioners, Jim Walters, Chris Schindler, Frank Snyder, Henry Johnson, and Burton Reeves, purchased property along Cornell Road. A two-story building was erected with an upstairs sleeping room. Dave Lohr, who resided at the station, relayed emergency calls to Chief Foege and the volunteers. Motor Sports International now occupies that building.

Additional improvements came in 1949 when a new International fire truck was purchased. The 1946 engine remained in use but the original 1936 Chevrolet truck was loaned to Chris Reichen for service in the Germantown Road area. It again saw action in 1967 when it rode in the Merrykana Parade in Portland. Carole Schmidt, who wrote a Cedar Mill article for the Valley Times, noted it failed to win a prize.

The fire-fighting crews quickly gained experience from combating several fires in the area. The volunteers fought several brush fires in the Bonny Slope area in the 1940’s and 1950’s In 1951 Multnomah and Washington County residents experienced a 1600-acre fire, believed to have been started by a campfire in Forest Park. It raged over Skyline Boulevard and threatened homes in Bonny Slope, Cedar Mill, and Bethany. Ten fire districts including Cedar Mill, plus hundreds of volunteers, spent seven days putting out the blaze.

Chief Foege served the fire district until 1972 and that same year the district merged with Washington County Fire District #1 (consolidated into Tualatin  Valley Fire and Rescue in 1989).  The old firehouse had been extensively remodeled and enlarged and in 1984 Station #A255 moved to new headquarters on Barnes Road near Highway 26.



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The Cedar Mill News
Published monthly by the Cedar Mill Business Association, Inc.,
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Portland, OR 97291-0177

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Publisher/Editor:Virginia Bruce
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