by Richard Uhlhorn
CITY-FIRE DEPARTMENT AGREEMENT FOR FIRE SERVICES:
The agreement for Fire Services with the City of Chelan has been in the works for four to five years and Chelan Fire would like to get an agreement in place before next year’s Fire Department’s WRSB Insurance Rating evaluation.
“It’s been four to five years we have been trying to get an agreement with the City of Chelan,” said Commissioner Russ Jones. “I’m a little worried. We have to have it in place and we’ve gone through several (city) administrators on this. I think we need to draw a line in the sand.”
Chief Mark Donnell said he could get on the City Council’s agenda on December 14 to discuss the importance of reaching an agreement.
The agreement would include giving the Fire District maintenance issues like making sure the City’s fire hydrants are in working order. Currently fire hydrant maintenance is a City responsibility.
ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF POSITION:
A heated discussion ensued on whether or not the Department should replace Brandon Asher’s Assistant Chief position when he officially takes over the Chief’s position when Mark Donnell retires at the end of December.
Phil Moller, board chair, stated that he didn’t think the Department needed an Assistant Chief, but instead designating a career fire fighter as the Assistant Chief. Brandon Asher argued that hundred’s of hours have been spent by him and Chief Donnell in the Chief’s and Assistant Chief’s position.
Elevating a career firefighter to that position would mean any extra hours worked beyond shift work would create lots of overtime. “That person has to be very functional,” said Asher. “He would be integrated with everything. I can’t work 365 days a year and he would fill in when I’m gone. We need to have that flexibility.
Russ Jones asked Moller if it was the title associated with the position? Karyl Oules said to Asher, “I hear what you are saying, but I need to look at this more.” Jones added that the job description and how they want it titled.
Chief Donnell chimed in and said that if it was a Captain upgraded to Assistant Chief, the Department was in essence opening the position to Union bargaining. “Overtime would become an issue,” said Donnell. “It is an administrative position along with field work. I believe the job description has been updated.”
Donnell added that next year there would be another $500 million available for Safer Grants and that the Department would be putting in for another grant. “It is an integral position.”
Jones said, “I guess I didn’t see any issues with it. I personally don’t have a comment on it.” Moller reiterated his position by saying, “I just don’t feel we need that guy right now. We don’t need to do it tomorrow.”
Asher replied, “It is a huge need for two people. You are constantly on call. One person cannot do that work.”
Jones remarked that from a numbers standpoint, the Commission had time to look at the position.
The District has been on a year to year lease with the City for its fire station at the Chelan Airport. Asher stated that there is no increase in the $2,739 per year lease. “It is a 20 year lease with no increase price and it includes water.”
Asher told the Commission that the Department received $89,155 from the existing Safer Grant which ends this year, another $9,000 in State Mob money from 2020, and that another $96,000 is expected from 2021 State Mob revenues.
CALLS FOR SERVICE:
The department responded to 67 calls for service in October which is down from an average of 74. This month, so far, there have been a total of 51 Calls for Service, eight of which were Advanced Life Support calls, 20 were Basic Life Support and 23 were No Transport calls.
Five hundred eighty one calls for service have been answered this year.
The department responded to two brush fires and a Structure fire on Markeson Street that was a total loss. “When the residents left, they left the front door open which created a path for the fire which started in the back of the house,” said Asher who was on scene within three minutes of the call out. The nearest fire hydrant was 350 feet away which forced Asher to use some residents to help try to suppress the fire. “That’s not what we want to do,” said Asher.
The Department will conduct a training fire on Saturday beginning at 8 a.m. at 221 Nixon Street.
Association president Dan Crandall reported that the Association brought in $263.00 in revenue in October and spent $872.00. The current bank balance is $30,895.00.
Crandall notified the Commission and Administration that he is stepping down as President of the Fire Association on December 31. A new president will be nominated by the board at that time. “I will be staying on as an executive committee member,” said Crandall.
Crandall reported that both the Parade Truck and Marine 71 have been decked out with Christmas lights.
There will be a Holiday Social for the Fire Department on Tuesday, November 30 at 6 p.m. at Laylas.