CHELAN FIRE DISTRICT ANTICIPATES A LONG FIRE SEASON

by Richard Uhlhorn

At Chelan Fire & Rescue’s commission meeting on Wednesday, July 15, Chief Mark Donnell told the commissioners that it was obvious that they wouldn’t be getting together as a group in July for a long range planning discussion. “Maybe in August,” said Donnell. “I’ll put it together and shoot it out to you since we don’t know when we are going to be able to go to an in-house meeting.”

Chairman Phil Moller said the District needs a plan to get the long range plan accomplished. “We are just going to have another public meeting.”

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Chairman Phil Moller wants a public meeting on the District’s long range planning process. 

Donnell also reported that he is hopeful to wrap up a City of Chelan Fire Protection Plan with the City by the week of July 20-24. “We have been in discussions with Mayor Goedde and administrator Wade Ferris.”

Dan Crandall reported that the Firefighters Association has approximately 45,000 in the bank and received $450 in donations over the past month. “We are in pretty good shape.” He also mentioned the Windermere SUP Cup. “I’m not sure it is going to happen this year. I will find out what their plans are,” said Crandall. “If it is going to happen we will get the rescue boat out to help.”

Chelan City Counsel liasion Ray Dobbs mentioned the proposed revamping of the Sanders and Johnson Avenue intersection. He stated that the City does not want to create issues with the Fire District. Apparently the City’s consultant proposed a roundabout at that intersection which was turned down. Another idea being proposed is a four-way stop at Wapato and 97A.

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City liasion Ray Dobbs reported on several items that came out of Tuesday evening’s City Council meeting that had relevance to the Fire District.

Dobbs reported that Dr. Witt talked about the viability of wearing masks. “Central Washington Hospital’s Critical Care Unit is full and any new patients are being sent to Seattle or Spokane,” said Dobbs. “We also approved at Council last night the Chelan County Emergency Management Plan. It is the beginning of trying to create a comp. plan.” The 2008 version has never been updated and Dobbs told the Commission that there is a section for Fire Departments in the new plan. He promised to send a copy over to the Department to review.

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Commissioner Karyl Oules has been in touch with South Shore residents and wants the District to address their concerns.

During the Commissioner Comments, Commissioner Oules asked what was up with Smoke Alarms at the Grand View. Chief Donnell replied that Chelan Resort Suites is the District’s biggest problem. He said that the City of Bellevue charges $150 per call out after the first one for a false alarm. “If you show that you have fixed the problem, they rebate that fine back to you.” These alarms are so sensitive, said Donnell, that cooking or toasting toast can set them off.

Commissioner Oules, who had reached out to residents on the South Shore about what they would like to see happen in the District, asked if there was anyone who would be willing to meet with them regarding their concerns. “There are 76 people in that area, said Oules. “They are concerned they are being ignored. How can we communicate,” she asked?

Chief Donnell replied that if they have specific concerns that Chief Asher or himself would be more than happy to meet with them. “Give them my name and number. Wait for them to get back to you,” said Donnell. “If they are serious about this, they can contact you.”

Chairman Phil Moller added that the District’s first commissioner heard about or from the First Creek residents. “What we’ve done in the past has not worked. Put a meeting together with the County Fire Marshall to see what we can do and what we can’t do.”

A question came up about the second alarm that triggered the siren for a small brush fire in Chelan Falls on the Fourth of July weekend that was allegedly started by fireworks. “There were multiple calls from local residents and everything we were getting from dispatch was that it was bad,” said Chief Asher. By the time the Fire Department responded to the incident, the residents had mostly put the fire out. Asher said, “If the siren does go off now, it will be a significant reason.”

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Commissioner Russ Jones is concerned about the number of accidents that seem to be coming from one rental company.

Commissioner Jones remarked that the community is having a higher number of accidents on the lake this year. “The rescue boat has responded,” he said. He added that the majority of accidents seem to be coming from one rental company’s operation. “It might be time to visit with Ryan again,” said Jones. Donnell said he would initiate that conversation. “We will see where we are at and where we want to go,” Donnell stated.

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Chelan Fire and Rescue has been responding to accident on the lake this summer.

During the Fire Chief’s report, Chief Donnell reported that the District is financially on track. “All line items are right where we want them now.”

He also reported that $76,000 was being set aside for the reserve fund and is hoping they can rebuild that fund back up. “It’s fire season and the middle of July. We will squirrel away the money as it comes in from State Mobilizations,” said Donnell

For the month of June, Donnell reported that there was a 10 percent decrease in fire related calls and a 20 percent decrease in EMS calls. “Overall the Fourth of July weekend call volume was slower than normal.” The District is anticipating a busier than normal fire season.

Chief Asher said the three Districts he represents for volunteers had no new recruits in June.

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