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New Hubbard fire chief pushes for community engagement

Steve Brewer was made chief of Hubbard Fire District in November, when Lance Lighty resigned

There have been a few changes at the Hubbard Fire District in recent months, not the least of which is that there's a new chief in town.

Steve Brewer was hired as a captain in early 2016 before he was made chief in November, upon the resignation of Chief Lance Lighty.

Lighty served as part-time chief for a year in addition to maintaining his role as battalion chief for Eugene Springfield Fire.

"The commute was big and a lot was going on with his full-time job," Brewer said.

Brewer actually got involved with Hubbard Fire District because he knew Lighty, having actually worked with Lighty's cousin at Roseburg Fire District. After serving in fire districts in Halsey and Harrisburg, Brewer worked in Roseburg for 14 years, eventually becoming assistant chief before moving to Camas, Wash., for a job outside of fire service. Though his career had taken a different direction, Brewer still wanted to maintain his emergency medical services hours, so he signed up at the volunteer fire department 48 miles south of Camas to fit in his drill time.

He took on the role of chief upon Lighty's resignation Nov. 1, but he was brought on full-time.

"For a district this size and with the number of calls we get — we saw a 14 percent increase in calls last year — it made sense to go full-time," Brewer explained, adding that he's still working at his Camas job.

That's not where the shuffling has stopped at the fire station. With Assistant Chief Steve McDermott and Capt. Chris DeBrito leaving the fire district, Brewer has appointed Mike Karhmann as captain and Maksim Pavlenko as lieutenant. Kahrmann is also the volunteer firefighters association president and works full-time for Woodburn Ambulance. No new assistant chief was brought on due to Brewer's full-time status.

In addition to these volunteer positions, the number of volunteer firefighters has risen from seven to 21 in a matter of months.

"We've had a huge influx of new volunteers. Seventy-five percent of them have been with us for less than a year," Brewer said.

With a new, strong slate of volunteers as well as student residents, the fire district is once again hopping, with hopes to reach out to the community more and more. This includes several open houses planned throughout the year and, starting March 17, a movie night for local kids.

The outreach will also continue with a brand new cadet program for high school students starting in April.