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The Oregon Fire Instructors Association is an organization made up of fire instructors from throughout the state of Oregon. It is governed by twenty, elected representatives from local and regional training associations.

Through the efforts made by its members, OFIA, over the past four decades has contributed to the growth of the fire service in Oregon. Its emphasis has been to educate firefighters, and through knowledge and skill, make the job safer for front line personnel.

A big step for Fire Service Training in Oregon took place in 1973 when the Legislative Assembly established the Fire Standards and Accreditation Board. This gave the instructors an accepted standard to teach toward. Also from this came the Fire Service Administrators Institute and a coordination of the Associate Degree Programs offered by the Community Colleges. These programs took OFIA from training firefighters to educating fire service personnel.

How OFIA Came to Be a Part of Oregon’s Fire Service
In the fall of 1960, following an oil fire school sponsored by the Western Oil and Gas Association, Bob Mobley got the idea that some type of organization was needed in the State to develop instructors and promote Fire Service Training. Bob got together with Ted Miller and began organizing the concept.

In February of 1961, about 20 representatives of the area fire departments including Bob Mobley, Ted Miller, and Earl Albright met at the Four Corners Fire Station for a brain storming session. Note: this meeting was cut short due to freezing rain. The group felt the concept had merit and set a date in March for the next meeting.

The first formal meeting was held March 18, 1961 at the Four Corners Fire Station and played to a full house. There were 53 representatives present. These members established themselves as Charter Members of a yet to be named organization. They decided to go for it and the name, “Oregon Fireman Instructor’s Association”, was selected. A committee was formed to draw up a set of by-laws and a statewide contest was established to develop a banner emblem.

The first official meeting of the Oregon Fireman Instructor’s Association was held in early June of 1961 in Corvallis on a hot Sunday afternoon upstairs in the main station. Election of officers was held with Walt Pflughaupt serving as President, Justin George, Vice-President, and Cecil dill acted as recording Secretary. A Board of Directors was also appointed. The emblem contest was judged and a young firefighter from the Portland area, Bruce MacPherson, won the contest and was awarded a $25.00 prize. This banner now hangs with a plaque in Bruce’s honor at the Chemeketa Community College Fire Station.

A lot of time was spent in those early days trying to improve ourselves in presenting lessons. We used a method similar to Toastmasters and had a lot of fun picking each other’s speeches apart.

The Fire Department Training Manuals during OFIA’s beginning consisted of:

1. The NFPA Handbook on Fire Protection
2. The American Red Cross First Aid Book
3. The Brown Bomber
4. 2 or 3 books on apparatus tactics and fire extinguishment
5. Earl Albright’s manual on Apparatus, Fire Pumps, and Hydraulics

What was the fire service like then and has there really been any progress?
Firefighters were firemen and rode on the tailboard, generally without restraining straps; turnouts were black duck or rubberized cotton materials, normally without reflective material; SCBA’s were a sometime thing and certainly not to be worn during overhaul, no positive pressure requirements, no long duration light-weight bottles; only short pigskin gloves; helmets of fiberglass and liners so crude that they could be replaced for pennies. Manila rope was the standard for all fire service uses, including life safety; fuel spills were washed into sewers and/or storm drains; rescue tools such as the Jaws of Life were just a dream. Water additives such as light water, thin water, and aqueous film forming foam were not even developed.

An early project that OFIA took on was to develop an Oregon Fire Service Training Manual which, when completed, resembled the University of Maryland Manual.

The OFCA asked the Fire Instructors to put on a series of classes at their June conference on current fire training practices in 1961, 62, and 63. These were all well received.

OFIA also developed a series of competitive evolutions that were based on firemanship and safety. These were conducted at the Fire Services Conferences held in June of each year. This was continued until about 1968. The competition consisted of hose and ladder evolutions, mask and rescue evolutions, and replacing a section of bursted hose evolution. All evolutions were done in full turnouts.

About 1961, the indirect method of fire attack was coming into being. This theory was being promoted by two young fellows, Bob Mobley and Cecil Dill. They took on such projects as burning down the City of Arlington to demonstrate the use of this method.

An interesting comment that was made by a now retired Chief at the OFCA Conference about the instructors during this period. “I don’t trust these young turks, cause I don’t want my men smarter than me.” Fortunately, this is not the attitude of the modern day fire chiefs in Oregon.

Through the years of 1963-77 the same format for OFIA continued, meeting every three months for a weekend workshop and business meeting. OFIA conducted annually, an advanced fire school, a basic fire school, and an instructors school during the early seventies. It also assisted the State Fire Marshal’s Office with burn-to-learns and oil fire schools. About the same time State Fire Training was removed from the Department of Continuing Education and placed in the State Fire Marshal’s Office.

A big step for Fire Service Training in Oregon took place in 1973 when the Legislative Assembly established the Fire Standards and Accreditation Board. This gave the instructors an accepted standard to teach toward. Also from this came the Fire Service Administrators Institute and a coordination of the Associate Degree Programs offered by the Community Colleges. These programs took us from training firefighters to educating fire service personnel.

In 1977 OFIA was faltering. Attendance was down with no real direction for the organization. Change had caught up with OFIA. Under President Bruce Lamb’s leadership, OFIA was reorganized into our present day format. There were only four (4) active regional associations at this time. Today there are twenty (20) officially voted on active regionals covering the entire state. The name OFIA was also updated during the reorganization to Oregon Fire Instructors Association.

Through the leadership of President Dick West, the First Annual Conference was held in Eugene in 1979 with about 45 in attendance. Since the Eugene conference, OFIA has reconvened at the following sites:

  • Sunriver – 1980
  • Portland – 1981
  • Grants Pass – 1982
  • Salem – 1983
  • Klamath Falls – 1984
  • Cottage Grove – 1985
  • Portland – 1986
  • Bend – 1987
  • Medford – 1988
  • Lincoln City – 1989
  • Beaverton – 1990
  • Pendleton – 1991
  • North Bend – 1992
  • Kah-Nee-Ta – 1993
  • Eugene – 1994
  • Medford – 1995
  • Lakeview – 1996
  • Joseph – 1997
  • Lincoln City – 1998
  • Canyonville – 1999
  • Bend – 2000
  • Pendleton – 2001
  • Porland – 2002
  • Medford – 2003
  • Eugene – 2004
  • Corvallis – 2005
  • Joseph – 2006
  • KeizerĀ – 2007
  • Coos Bay – 2008
  • Medford – 2009
  • Bend – 2010
  • Troutdale – 2011
  • Salem – 2012

In 1980, the first Officer School became a reality. It was a success and has grown to be a highly recognized school in the Northwest. A new banner design was proposed during this time period and Pointing the Way became a reality.

OFIA over the past four decades has contributed to the growth of the fire service in Oregon. This is an organization of all fire instructors in the state governed by representatives from each regional training association in the state.

As Life Member Marv Manning stated at the 1990 Conference, “All movement has been forward with one change or development complimenting another”.

OFIA is always pointing the way.

OFIA Past Presidents

2010 – 2011 Michael Kinkade, Forest Grove Fire and Rescue
2009 – 2010 Michael Kinkade, Forest Grove Fire and Rescue
2008 – 2009 Emmit Cornford, LaGrande Fire Department
2007 – 2008 Sam Phillips, Hillsboro Fire Department
2005 – 2007 Kevin Wickman, Keizer Fire District
2003 – 2005 Jim Thiel, South Lane Fire & Rescue
2001 – 2003 Bob Sjolund, Jefferson Co. Fire District No.1
1999 – 2001 Johnny Mack, Chemeketa Community College
1997 – 1999 Todd Reynolds, Pendleton Fire Department
1995 – 1997 Mike Warren, Tualitan Valley Fire and Rescue
1994 – 1995 Tay Robertson, Eugene Fire Department
1993 – 1994 Jim Whelan, Stanfield Fire Department
1991 – 1993 Dick Ragsdale, Corvallis Fire Department
1989 – 1991 Bill Anderson, Tualitan Valley Fire and Rescue
1988 – 1989 Frank Divers, Eugene Fire Department
1986 – 1988 Rick Hopkins, Polk County Fire District No.1
1985 – 1986 Buzz Buzalsky, Eugene Fire Department
1984 – 1985 Rod Martin – Multnomah Fire District No. 10
1982 – 1984 Dave Simmons – Douglas County Fire District No. 2
1981 – 1982 Floyd Scott – Springfield Fire Department
1978 – 1981 Dick West – Clackamas RFPD No. 56
1977 – 1978 Bruce Lamb – Cottage Grove Fire Department
1976 – 1977 Ken Teel – Cottage Grove Fire Department
1974 – 1976 Skip Emerson – Chemeketa Community College
1972 – 1974 Bill Gilliam – Tualatin Fire Department
1971 – 1972 Gary Hill – Corvallis Fire Department
1970 – 1971 Dieter Schultz – Springfield Fire Department
1969 – 1970 Don Milligan – Monmoth Fire Department
1968 – 1969 Lucas – Marion County Fire District No. 1
1967 – 1968 Eugene Merk – Roseburg Fire Department
1966 – 1967 Taylor – Tualatin Fire Department
1965 – 1966 Walt Pfluhupt – Corvallis Fire Department
1964 – 1965 George Howland – Multnomah Fire District No. 10
1963 – 1964 Hal Richards – Portland Fire Bureau
1962 – 1963 Cliff Thrasher – Roseburg Rural
1961 – 1962 Walt Pfluhupt – Corvallis Fire Department
1961 – 1962 Organizational Meeting Held at Four Corners Fire Ted Miller