Boyd C. Allen

The Harbor Rural Fire Protection District (Harbor Fire) was cited for seven violations found during a set of December and January inspections by the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (OSHA). The total of proposed penalties is $2,200.

The inspections, initiated by an anonymous complaint, led to citations for multiple “serious” violations – most related to firefighters’ breathing apparatus.

OSHA cited Harbor Fire for failing to fit-test self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) on firefighters yearly. The proposed penalty for that violation of $1,400 was the most serious of the offenses.

Other citations for failing to have a written respiratory program implemented and for firefighters failing to show a general knowledge of the requirements of the Respiratory Protection Standard were related to the department’s use of SCBA gear.

Harbor Fire staff who could be exposed to bloodborne pathogens did not receive training on all the requirements of the bloodborne pathogen standards at least annually, according to the report.

The other violations were related to equipment issues or certifications and included failure to test breathing air cylinders within five years or take them out of service after 15 years, testing the air compressor used to fill breathing air bottles every six months, and investigators found one helmet to be out-of-date in design requirements required by the National Fire Protection Association.

Harbor Fire public information officer Neville Hill said it was an instructive and positive process to have an outside agency examine the department’s facilities and procedures.

Chief Bob Larson said it was “good working with them and they had no real ax to grind with us.”

Larson provided documents showing the department had hydro-tested its breathing air cylinders, fit-tested its masks and assigned masks to individual firefighters based on fit.

Firefighters will be tested again with their assigned masks, according to the documents, and the department has been reviewing and updating its medical policies since January.

Larson said bloodborne pathogen training had been revised and done in accordance with the more comprehensive standards.

The out-of-date helmet has been replaced, he said, and the air-compressor, which was new in the summer of 2018, had passed its testing as well and is certified for six months.

Harbor Fire continues to revise and create policies to gain compliance with OSHA on all standards, according to Larson and Hill.

OSHA documents give the department 30 days from the issuance of the violation to become compliant or ask for extensions. The violations are dated Jan. 23.

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