Chelan Fire retains full staffing for the rest of 2018 with five new hires

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by Richard Uhlhorn

Chelan County Fire District 7 lost four of its Safer Grant firefighters this past month to Sno1 in Snohomish. The District has filled those positions with five individuals from the department. “Our goal is to successfully get them certified as Firefighter 1 in the next three months,” said Assistant Chief Brandon Asher. “We are able to maintain staffing levels with what’s left of the Safer Grant to the end of the year.”

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The five firefighters are Austin Yancey, Hunter Newmiller, Sam Belsky,
Samantha Rains and Jonathon Mondoza.

Lisa Garvich spoke during the Citizen Comment period and gave a shout out to the administration. “We were trying to figure out good way to reach the public with quick information,” she said. Garvich, who is retired by worked as a Public Information Officer in the past told the Commission that a small team of volunteers have put together a pilot program for this fire season.

“A group of us practiced on small events,” she said. They set up a schedule so someone can be on hand at the Station to answer phone calls when a second alarm went out. They are also going to get information out to the community through the District’s website and Face book page.

She thanked the administration and commissioners for all the support. Later in the meeting, Assistant Chief Brandon Asher remarked that he really appreciated the PIO group’s efforts in getting information out to the public. “The phone is constantly ringing,” said Asher. “The need for that group is there. I hope we can maintain what we are involved in out to the public.”

Chief’s Report:

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Tyler Zacker’s wife pins a Lt. Bar on his shirt at the Fire Commission meeting. Zacker was one of the six Safer Firefighters that was retained
and has been promoted to Lt.

 Chief Tim Lemon reported that $100,000 had been added to the Reserve Account and is expecting a second round based on tax revenues which will bring the reserve account up to $150,000.

He also reported that state mobilization for wildfires this season has generated approximately $65,000 which will trickle into the department over the next six to 12 months. The wildfire funds were for $24,000 in wages and $41,000 in apparatus charge outs. Asked if the wages were the only expense to the department, Lemon said, “We are not paying them out of our bucket.” The apparatus charges are a positive cash flow to the department. “So that’s another $40,000 net to the department,” asked Jones? “Yes,” replied Lemon.

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Chief Tim Lemon congratulates Tyler Zacker on his retention in the department and promotion to Lt.

This past month the department responded to 106 (118 emergency responses) calls which Lemon said is 12 percent above last year. “We should close out the year about eight percent above last year,” said Lemon.

Of the calls, two were to wild fires including the Cougar Mountain Fire. Three or four more were to other smaller wildfires. The District also responded to 10 small brush fires in conjunction with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The department responded to one residential house fire with the Manson Fire Department. “We had three vehicle fires,” said Lemon. There were also seven accident responses two of which included injuries. “That doesn’t include the semi accident up McNeil Canyon that took 3.15 hours to extract the drive from. Primary responders on that accident were Douglas County 4 and 5.

There was also a boat taking on water out at the Cove. “No one wants to claim it, “said Lemon. Jones remarked that there is a method through the DNR for removal of craft like that.

Chief Lemon also reported that he and other administration officials met with State Senator Brad Hawkins on Wednesday morning and discussed five important issues which were not listed at the meeting. All call to the Department for that list was unsuccessful.

Assistant Chief Asher reported that with the loss of four staff firefighters from the Safer Grant gone to Snohomish Fire District 1 (Sno1) the department has brought five individuals on board from the volunteer group to fill those missing positions to the end of the year. “Our goal is to successfully get them through Firefighter 1 certification by the end of the year,” said Asher. “We are able to maintain staffing levels on the Safer Grant to the end of the year and were able to capture five our own to do that.”

He also reported that Tuesday night training sessions was not bringing out the volunteers like he’d hoped. “Some of them work on Tuesday nights, so we’ve opened up Saturday training sessions.”

Nine new volunteers have been recruited with four in Chelan, one in Entiat and four in Orondo. If you are interested in volunteering in the fire service, call Assistant Chief Asher at 682-4476.

The department is hoping to set up a Cadet program at both Chelan and Entiat High Schools. A flyer has been created to incorporate all three agencies.

Dan Crandall reported that the Fire Association began the month with $34,091 in the bank and ended with $27,822. The expenditures included purchasing a banner which was used for the SUP paddle board event and will continue to be used on the parade truck.

“We are also in the process of buying rescue airbags. We are still waiting for the factory to produce the larger air bags,” said Crandall.

The Fire Association also made two contributions to fire victims who lost their homes and purchased seven additional gift cards.

“We will also be manning a booth at Mahogany and Merlot,” said Crandall.

Fire Association members and career staff all attended the 911 Memorial in Cashmere. Crandall stated that it was well attended and very moving.

On the Unfinished Business, the Survey Company rebounding the district is not finished, but are still working on the district boundaries which will open up some annexation areas.

New Business:

The District is entering into a memorandum of understanding with the Union so they could select personnel from the Department to fill in the slots left by the Safer Grant staff that has left. “It was timely to get these people on board until the end of the Safer Grant. The commission approved the MOU and a Union representative was also on hand to sign it.

2018 staffing is set. In 2019, the plan is to keep the original six career firefighters and administrators. The plan is to add one additional firefighter. They would pay for this by the approximate $12,000 savings on overtime. Commissioner Jay Witherbee asked if they had to make the decision then. Lemon replied that they would like to get some direction for budgeting. Jay asked if it was less expensive to hire than to pay the overtime. Lemon replied that the department will still be paying some overtime. “Of all the options we’ve looked at, this is the one I like,” said Jones.

 

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