DALLAS — Chief Fred Hertel, Southwest Polk Rural Fire Protection District’s administrator, is breathing a sigh of relief after voters on May 16 approved the district’s 15-year, $5.2 million bond.

Voters passed the measure by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent, with the vote tally at 1,012 to 852.

Proceeds from the bond will purchase much-needed equipment, including breathing units that allow firefighters to enter burning buildings to put out blazes or for rescues, Hertel said.

The day following the vote, Hertel was cautious about the win.

“From talking to people in the political realm, it looks like it’s a favorable vote,” he said. “I think that’s a pretty good margin for Polk County.”

Hertel said planning for how to spend the money started a year ago when discussions of placing the bond on the ballot began.

In addition to breathing units, fire engines and equipment, the district’s board designated the money to replace the Rickreall station and build a new one in the Salt Creek area.

The district now turns to details of making that happen.

“I am going to ask that we have a purchasing, contracting training for the board brought in so that we are following all the rules appropriately and that they understand what they are,” Hertel said.

Special Districts Association of Oregon will help with training.

“None of it is going to happen immediately,” Hertel said. “None of it is even budgeted in our budget until July 1, and then it may take even longer than that to get the bonds processed and sold..”

He added the measure wouldn’t have succeeded without a team effort.

“It’s sure a sigh of relief,” he said. “We couldn’t have done it without all the help from the staff here and the volunteers, the union and the (political action committee) that ramped up. It was a good group effort.”

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