Chelan Fire & Rescue slips into 2021 with $703,000

by Richard Uhlhorn

“We carried over $703,000 from  2020 which is much higher than forecast,” Chief Mark Donnell told fire commissioners at its February 17 commission meeting. The District has put $100,000 of those funds into its capital apparatus fund which brings the total to $260,000. In addition, the District has received another $67,000 from Cal Fire and is putting another $20,000 into the fund. The remaining $47,000 covers what the District paid out in salaries and overtime.

February has started off slow for the District and Donnell expects it to “come in around 35 calls total.”

The District’s hydrant issue is a lot larger than commonly thought. There are 193 hydrants lacking the four inch Storz fittings. “We need to find out who they belong too,” said Donnell. The City owns some of them as does Isenhart Water District.

Commissioner Oules asked the timeline of installing 4 inch Storz fittings at the Lookout Development. Donnell replied that the Lookout has agreed to put in the new fittings, but that there are a number of issues at the development. The District has conducted a two year traffic study which proves how precarious driving a fire truck through would be in the original plat.

Commissioner Moller asked about taking a ladder truck up there. Donnell replied that it would not be going up there. “The City is staying on top of the developers,” stated Donnell. “Only the original development is problematic.”

The District also received an email from Hughes Fire which is much closer than the company in St. Louis that has been thought to be the firm to work on the corrosion issues on Ladder 71. “It gives us another option,” said Donnell. He warned that Hughes had not been responsive and they had forgot about them until this email came in indicating interest.

The Safer Grant that Chief Brandon Asher falls under is finished at the end of this year, but Donnell said that the grant program has reopened and that Manson, Orondo and Entiat will all  participate in the Grant request. Applications are due by March 12.

Chief Asher reported that he has been in conversations with Chelan 1 developing a Hazmat Support Group and that Chelan 1 will lend one of their ladder trucks until the District’s is returned.

Chief Asher reported that Orondo has two more recruits but that two recruits from Chelan didn’t show up at the Recruit Academy. “I’m willing to work with people, but I don’t want to waste my time.” He has called each of the 10 times with no response. The Academy is going well despite the lack of response from two potential volunteers.

He also reported that the District would be assisting the City in burning down the Public Works Building in preparation for new construction, but said that the City received much higher construction bids on the new facility than was estimated. “It was over $1 million over what they were expecting.”

Commissioner Russ Jones remarked that the EMT training was going well. “It’s a great group and we are getting lots of information. It also gives me a chance to get to know volunteers.”

Dan Crandall, Firefighters Association President, reported that the association as $32,000 in its account which should carry them through the year in support of victims. He’s also hoping to be able to hold a Pancake Breakfast in July or August. Moller told him that the annual Car Show in June is being planned.

Unfinished Business:

The agreement between the City and Fire Department on service is on hold because the city’s employee is out on medical leave for the foreseeable future. Donnell did report that City Councilman Chris Baker will be taking the liaison position on between the City and Department.

Chief Donnell requested that the Commissioners give him their list of three individuals they would like to see on the Citizen’s Advisory Group. He has, and the commission agreed, that Concie Luna would facilitate the upcoming meetings. “I’m sold,” said Donnell. He hopes to have the first meeting in March.

Karyl Oules has already submitted her names for the committee. Phil Moller stated that he expected Donnell, Asher and Carol Kibler to be present at each meeting of the committee

Donnell also stated that some staff would be involved but not participatory. “They will be there as a support role.” He also stated that since the County is in Phase 2, that the meetings would take place in-person at the department. “We can have up to 20 people in the room excluding staff.”

New Business:

Chief Donnell reported that the District applied for a DNR grant and have received it. “It is a $12,000 matching grant,” said Donnell who asked the commission to approve accepting it. “We need to use it by March 15 next year.” He wants to find a 4-wheel drive unit that can be put into service for the wildland/urban interface. “We will look and see what we can find. After one year in service it would be our property and after 10 years we should be able to sell it for $35,000.”

Commissioner Jones stated during the commission remarks that the EMT Class he is taking is top notch.

Moller replied and thanked Jones for taking the course because it gives the District one more set of hands in emergency situation.

Chelan Fire and Rescue meets on the third Wednesday of the month beginning at 3 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend.

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