Fire district plans for future

Frank Swedenborg at a November drill. #

Cannon Beach Fire and Rescue will start the new year with a new training officer, “burn to learn” drills and a strategic plan in the works.

New part-time training officer Marc Reckmann, from the Cornelius Fire Department near Forest Grove, has an “extensive training background” and a track record of obtaining grants, Fire Chief Matt Benedict said at the Dec. 12 board meeting.

Benedict hired Reckmann on a six-month contract. Former Fire Capt. Matt Gardner resigned in March to take a job at the Arch Cape Water and Sanitary District.

Regular drills on a donated house will begin after the holiday season in January.

“We’re going to train a lot on the house that we’re going to burn,” Benedict said.

Benedict is also developing a strategic plan for the fire district “to see where we’re at and where to go in the future.”

He hopes to advance Ham radio operations and bring together groups like Cannon Beach Community Emergency Response Team, Medical Reserve Corps and the Fire Corps into one unified group.

“We’re going to be cut off from the tunnel if something happens,” he said.

Benedict said he is inspired by what the emergency volunteer corps of Nehalem Bay are doing.

“I have to give them credit; they have it figured out,” he said. “I’m talking with their chief about what they’re doing so we can all mirror it up here.”

Benedict was hired in June after an in-depth selection process to replace former fire chief Mike Balzer was dismissed in October 2015.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit pitting Balzer against the Cannon Beach Rural Fire Protection District will be heard next year before the U.S. District Court in Portland. The lawsuit moved to federal court in August after Balzer raised civil rights claims.

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