Northwest NEWS

June 8, 1998

Local News

'Burning down the house' in the name of training recruits

by Andrew Walgamott
Staff reporter

   BOTHELL--"Residential structure fire, 21203 Bothell-Everett Highway." That call was dispatched repeatedly to Bothell Fire and EMS units last Wednesday. It wasn't that the fire wouldn't go out, it just kept getting set. Putting the fire out each time was the job of six firefighter recruits who hope to join Bothell's fire department.

For Keith Ward, Greg Gwyn, Scott Kim, Adam Lamb, Butch Noble and Mike Masterson, this was week 14 of their 16 week training academy. Last Tuesday and Wednesday's lesson was fire behavior and suppression. On the second day, Bothell fire officials lit individual rooms of the house on fire and called in the recruits and seasoned veterans to put the flames out. Neighbors were advised not to call 911.

The house, donated by a developer who is going to redevelop the property, was eventually burned down to the foundations, according to Lt. Frank Shasky. But there's more to learning to be a firefighter than spraying down flames. As well as learning how to handle hoses and scale ladders, the six men have spent eight-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week since late February attending classes. They have had homework assignments, done six to eight page term papers and will also make a multi-media presentation June 18.

Drillmaster Rob Van Spaandonk says this academy has also focused on customer service. "We're trying to emphasize making an emotional connection with our customers," said Van Spaandonk. "In this academy, we're analyzing why we do things like rolling a line to the front door [of a burning house].The quicker we do that, the quicker we can help Mrs. Smith," he said.
   Recruits were sent to the Northshore Multi Service Center to pack food and serve lunch at the Northshore Senior Center. Van Spaandonk also noted that with tight tax dollars, "We want to survive by making a reputation that the community needs us."
   This is the first in-house academy for Bothell since 1994. Van Spaandonk said the department was hiring firefighters due to an increase in their budget.
   The recruits will be assigned to the downtown station after graduation ceremonies June 19. "This is the best group of people I've had to work with in my career," Van Spaandonk said.