by Richard Uhlhorn
Chief Mark Donnell told the Chelan Fire & Rescue commissioners that the department had 62 calls in March. “It was a fairly busy month for us,” said Donnell. There were 39 EMS calls with12 requiring Advance Life Support; 15 – Basic Life Support and 12 that required no ambulance transport.
The Department has had over 1,000 people vaccinated by the EMS at the Fire Station and vaccination dates continue to come up for non-vaccinated individuals. Go to lakechelanhealth.org for information and/or to register for your vaccine appointment.
The Department responded to two brush fires on Little Butte that turned out to be a fires that escaped a controlled burns when the wind came up. It burned approximately 14 acres. “The folks were doing the right thing,” said Donnell. “Unfortunately the wind picked up.”
Chelan Fire also responded to a structure fire on East Center Street and an Aircraft Standby emergency. “All of the planes landing gear was not functioning, but they got it down and landed without incident.”
Assistant Fire Chief Brandon Asher said he signed one new recruit but lost four. He hopes to get a few volunteers he can get trained up to be on the fire lines this summer. “Red cards will be issued in the first week of May,” said Asher.
Asher reminded the Commissioners that there would be a practice structure burn out by Pat & Mikes on Saturday.
Chairman Phil Moller stated that despite rumors to the contrary, the District has no intention of putting a Fire Station out at Pat and Mikes.
Fire Association President Dan Crandall reported that the association has $31,500 in the bank, but only brought in $700 last month while spending $2,500. The Association usually holds its annual Pancake Breakfast during the June 5 Cruzin Chelan event. “This year we are going to try a Grab n’ Go,” said Crandall. “We will have a booth set up where people can pick up breakfast and a few beverages. It will keep us in the publics eye.”
Crandall also announced that the association is on the verge of releasing its new website.
He also congratulated Commissioner Russ Jone on his successful completion of the recent EMT course. Jones is now a certified EMT in the State of Washington and will continue towards a National Certification. Jones said, “After I retire from the bank, I’m interested in becoming an operator on Marine 71. I am not interested in becoming a combat fire fighter or a wildland fire fighter.”
Chief Donnell stated that the Advisory Board is going along. In a separate conversation with Jones, the Department is looking at the possibility of running a Levy Lid Lift in November. The District is looking at a levy that will be in place for 10 years and will allow the District to keep abreast of new regulations and allow it to replace outdated equipment.
Moller said he was concerned with the 240+ hours of overtime this past month. “I don’t have a solution, but we are going to have to find a lot of money for OT.
Crandall noted that with the pandemic winding down, more people might be interested in volunteering. “Let’s keep a positive outlook.” Moller replied that volunteerism is coming to the forefront nation wide. “We need to keep a close eye on that.”
On Saturday, April 24, Chelan Fire, Manson District 5, Entiat District 8 and Orondo came together to conduct a major training exercise at a residential structure burn. This exercise was designed to give firefighters (volunteer and staff) real time training with combat firefighting inside a burning house.
“This is important training for them,” said Fire Chief Mark Donnell. “They get to see what it is like under real conditions and learn how to use the tools available to them to combat a house fire.”
District 5 Fire Chief Arnold Baker echoed Donnell’s remarks and stated that the training was an important part of becoming a combat fire fighter. When he and a volunteer took a fan up to the smoke filled front door, he described how the fan, as long as an escape hole has been attained, will push the fire out and allow fire fighters access to the structure.
When it got too hot for firefighters to effectively fight inside, hoses were put into play to cool the fire down to help fight the fire.
This practice burn was an excellent opportunity for new and old fire fighters to learn new techniques. The entire exercise was run by Assistant Chief Brandon Asher, Lt. Shawn Sherman and Fire Fighter Adam Jones.
Chelan Fire and Rescue needs more individuals willing to commit and volunteer for the District. Interested individuals can contact Assistant Chief at 509-682-4476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact the department and find out what opportunities exist. Fire service is a great occupation for those willing to commit to the training. There are plenty of high paying jobs available in Fire Departments, the U.S. Forest Service, Department of Natural Resources and other organizations with fire departments.