by Richard Uhlhorn
Chelan Fire and Rescue (Chelan County Fire District No. 7) held a Strategic Planning meeting on Wednesday, April 27, to present its planning process to the Fire Commissioners.
Carol Kibler, administrative assistant, updated the commission on the current and future budget and said the department would carry over $1.7 million if it did not have to pay the $433,690 in capital expenses including the ladder truck. “It will be a brand new truck after its refurbishing,” said Chief Brandon Asher. The truck was purchased for $175,000 and the department is spending another $250,000 on it.
Commissioner Phil Moller asked what the life expectancy of the ladder truck will be. Asher replied it would be 20 years at 2,500 mile per year. Mechanic John Goyne stated that maintenance would be less than $500 per year, but wasn’t sure about fuel costs.
The department is also purchasing two new high clearance trucks with All-Wheel-Drive to help access urban/wildland interface homes. “Homes are being built higher and higher into the hills.”
On the south shore, there are switchbacks after switchbacks to residences which means some fires on those residential homes will have to be fought from the road with a 100 foot hose haul.
The Strategic Plan is an opportunity for the department to look into future. “It is a roadmap of where we want to be. We don’t want to go backwards.”
Currently Chelan Fire has 11 career firefighters and 30 volunteers. “During this process, some fire fighters asked about including a core value of Teamwork,” said Asher.
The district is still trying to come up with accurate population numbers. Current data shows that Chelan has a population of 4,095 and the outlying areas of the district has 3,356 residents for a total of 7,485. “It’s not going to slow down,” said Asher.
The department responded to 1,053 calls in 2021 and expects that to increase this year.
Truck #7 would cost $779,000 to replace. Goyne stated that everything on the truck is obsolete except for the engine.
Truck #71 will be a brand new truck after its refurbishment.
Rescue 71 has been updated to a diesel engine.
Brush 7 is a department workhorse and has only 10,866 miles on it.
Brush 75 is the last of the Ford 550s, but is another workhorse for the department.
Brush 75 is stationed in Union Valley.
Brush 79 is a DNR loaner rig. “The plan for this to start sending it out on State Mob.”
Tender 71 is an AWD that carries 4,000 gallons of water. “It can spend a long time on a fire,” said. Goyne. “I’ve been on fires where 4,000 gallons have made a huge difference.”
Chief 71 is five years past replacing, but the department has put a new purchase on hold. Goyne said a replacement would cost between $70,000 and $80,000.
Mechanic’s truck has 100,000 miles on it and used they are selling for $31,000.
The department’s Tahoe still runs good and is primarily used to transport volunteers to certification classes.
Hazmat II is 22 years old, but according to Asher, it is a good rig for what the department is trying to do.
Marine 71 is a great addition to the fleet. “We are exploring all fire fighting options for it. Commissioner Russ Jones stated that they don’t want to cut into the aluminum hull and will put a portable on the stern to find out if a portable is appropriate or not.
Jones said he would like to have a marine radio on the Marine 71. Asher asked if that was a special radio and Jones replied that marine radios are programmed differently.
Chief Asher said, “We are crossing our fingers that this will get us through another fire season.
The department is planning on replacing the flooring in both the dorm and common areas.
Security cameras have been purchased and they are waiting on the possibility of getting a Digital Reader Board from the DNR. Long term plans call for a hose tower and workout area.
Chelan Falls has only one volunteer. The building was built in 1984. There were 46 responses to Chelan Falls last year. “If we can’t get more volunteers, we will look at closing this station and possibly moving a truck over to Douglas County’s proposed new facility on the other side of the Beebe Bridge.” However it was noted that Chelan Falls is changing.
Station 73 has six volunteers with three of them combat certified. It had 11 calls last year.
Station 74 at the airport houses the department’s Search and Rescue equipment. “It’s pretty old, but a good station. “It will meet our need in the future if the proposed casino i built and water is out there.”
Station 75 has seven volunteers with four combat certified. It serves the south shore to 25 Mile Creek State Park.
Entiat/Chelan are beginning a joint effort to serve both Navarre Coulee and Downey Canyon.
The department will continue its goal of having a highly trained staff and volunteers to work fires. It will also continue to seek grant opportunities.
“We have a lot of new people and it is important to get training behind them.” Asher also stated that the department’s equipment needs are being met. The department is also conducting Community Risk Assessments.
Keeping the Community aware of fire department activities and involved is of highest priority. Commissioner Karyl Oules stated that residents don’t know about all the laws the department has to comply with. Asher said, “We need engagement with the media.. getting the message out there about what we are doing. I think that is important.”
Fiscal management is also a top priority. “We are doing what is appropriate and transparent.” This brought up the subject of a resident who has requested all emails. Kibler said, “He’s getting everything he asked for,” said Kibler. “We will never change his mind, no matter what we do. We are still doing the right thing.”
Moller brought up the need to seriously look at John Goyne’s replacement. Goyne will be retiring in two years and the District would like to have a competent replace on board before that happens.