by Richard Uhlhorn
Chelan Fire & Rescue Town Hall
Thursday, May 30 at 6 p.m.
Chelan Senior Center
Chelan County Fire District No. 7 commissioners made a decision to not run a Tax Levy until 2022. The District loses $220,000 in Safer Grant funding at that time and sees a need to increase its tax base by an estimated $.20 cents to $.25 cents per thousand to continue the level of service they are currently providing.
Chelan Fire Commissioners decide on Town Hall meeting to discuss levys.
The Commissioner decided that it would be smart to get way out in front of that issue by holding a Town Hall style meeting to explain why new funds will be needed long before they attempt to pass a levy. The Town Hall has been scheduled for Thursday evening, May 30 beginning at 6 p.m. at the Senior Center.
Fire Commission Chair Russ Jones said he hopes that the District can enhance its response time after the drowning near First Creek. “There was a Fishing Derby going on at the time and a number of fishermen responded including an off-duty firefighter,” said Jones. The body was recovered in 30 to 35 feet of water.
Response time will increase significantly when the new Fire & Rescue boat is put into service in June. “The engines are on the transom,” said Jones “We are replacing some of the cabling and looking at technology that will help us find somebody underwater.”
Chelan Fire & Rescue’s new boat should be on the water by June.
That technology might include a modern fish finder or side scan sonar system. “It is going to be a matter of time to get it built up to do all the things we want it to do,” said Jones.
The commission agreed to a request by Jones to allow him to participate in marine operations as a volunteer without pay. He is currently the only member of the District that is certified to operate the boat. Commissioner Phil Moller said, “There is no objection on my part.” Commissioner Witherbee added that there were no glaring reasons not to let Jones volunteer.
Chief Tim Lemon and Deputy Chief Mark Donnell are picking up and driving the new ladder truck back to Chelan from Alabama. They left on Sunday, April 21 and anticipate the drive back will take five days.
With Lemon volunteering it will save overtime pay for a fireman to pick the truck up. “I’m the only one who had a clear schedule,” said Lemon.
The District’s AFG-SCBA Compressors are up and capable of filling bottles.
Deputy Chief Mark Donnell (right) and Assistant Chief Asher gave reports on volunteers and training.
Deputy Chief Donnell reported that the District attracted 31 recruits in 2018 with 12 of them being in Chelan. “It takes $7200 to put a person on the street,” said Donnell. Moller replied that kids today seem to not be into long term commitments. “The industry has to change. What can we do here,” he asked?
Fire Chief Tim Lemon reported that funds from the tax rolls are beginning to come in. “Nothing real significant,” he said. He also mentioned that the District is subject to a Federal Audit and that RiverCom is looking at an increase of 1/10th% increase in its tax.
Chief Lemon reports on the District’s activity which included 69 calls in March.
Lemon reported that the District had 69 calls in March which is the second highest in 10 years. In the Urban area the District is responding within four minutes and response time is a little longer in the Suburban and Rural Areas.
Chief Donnell reported that training has produced more personnel for duty out on the line. Five volunteers have attained certification as Firefighters; one has received Hazmat certification and two have received other certifications.
Assistant Chief Asher reported that the District’s Stipend percentages are up to 89% in April. “We are seeing an increase and improving,” he said.
Wildland firefighting training will be taking place in Entiat and Asher stated that the volunteers are going to get a good introduction to it.
Dan Crandall reported on the Fire Fighter Association. He said they had received a Thank You note from the Foodbank for the $500.00 donation and one from Amy davis at the Chelan Valley Pride for the associations support.
Crandall also reported that the Association has provided a family in Orondo with a $1,500.00 donation after their home burned down.
The next Fire Commission meeting will be on May 15 at 3 p.m. The public is encouraged to attend.