Northwest NEWS

February 14, 2000

Editorial

Commissioner out of touch with fire department

   In response to Commissioner Callon's letter regarding "outrageous spending," I would like to express my feelings as a citizen living in the WF&LS response district.

   First, I would like to say that I feel quite privileged to be served by a department that has proven to be progressive in meeting the needs of the community they serve. With the miles of walking/bicycling trails that run along the Sammamish Slough (which cannot be accessed by emergency vehicles), I am glad to see that the fire department has overcome this challenge by putting together a bicycle team to respond to emergencies on the trail. Imagine a serious bicycle crash, or worse yet, someone suffering a cardiac arrest while out walking. $40.00 pedals? Cheap insurance. We all know that maintaining equipment costs money. Would we hesitate to spend money to fix a broken fire engine or aid car?

   Here's another potential reality: You're the unfortunate victim of a house fire. Your child is trapped in the upstairs bedroom. The fire department arrives and stretches a fire hose into your burning home in an attempt to rescue your child. Suddenly, you notice that the two firefighters that entered the house are now coming out. One firefighter is dragging the other. Sadly, the rescue could not be made because the firefighter suffered a heart attack while pushing well beyond his physical limits in this rescue effort.

   Keep in mind that firefighters wear about 70 lbs. of protective equipment and drag what is the equivalent of hundreds of pounds of fire hose into a hostile fire environment. $20,000 to provide the opportunity for all firefighters to stay physically fit using quality treadmills? Yes, please.

   In addition to choosing not to equip our fire department sufficiently to provide quality life-saving service, Commissioner Callon would now like to eliminate a position that is a very important one. Could you imagine running a multi-faceted organization like a fire department? Let's see, you're the chief and you are in charge of the following projects: 1. Fire Suppression; 2. Medical Services; 3. Hazardous Materials Response; 4. Water Rescue; 5. Disaster Management; 6. Fire Prevention; 7. Training; and 8. Equipment/Apparatus Maintenance.

   There may be more; these are just the ones that I can think of. These eight areas are critical to the effectiveness of our fire department. They cannot be properly managed by a skeleton crew.

   Now consider your own career or job. How many major projects can you manage at one time? One, two, maybe three at the very most. The more you try to manage, the lower the quality will be. Effective emergency response requires effective administration. I would feel cheated if we let one of the two critical deputy chief positions be eliminated.

   Fellow citizens, what do you want from your fire department? Quality emergency response when you need it, right? I do. We need fire commissioners who understand the needs of the community and the needs of the fire department so that they can deliver quality service to the community.

   I appreciate fiscal responsibility, but I deplore blind cutting and chopping to try to meet an unreasonable budget figure. I stand behind the other four commissioners who have taken the time to understand our needs and make the responsible decisions to ensure the safety and well-being of the citizens living in the Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District.

Roger Kacmarcik, Woodinville