The Fire Prevention division, comprised of a Fire Marshal, Assistant Fire Marshal, four Inspectors and two job-share Secretaries, remained busy throughout 2000 with the following duties:
- Business license application inspection
- City Development Review Committee meetings
- Engine company inspection referrals
- Fire investigations
- Fire sprinkler and fire alarm systems testing and maintenance
- Hydrant program complaints and repairs
- Inspection and plan review: new construction, fire sprinklers, fire alarms
- Juvenile fire setter interventions
- Supra program
- Uniform fire code permit inspections
- Water flow tests
Significant changes for 2000 include:
Our investigators took over a significant role in fire investigations in 2000. We now have sole responsibility for fire investigations within the city limits of Federal Way. We performed all of the “Origin and Cause” investigations. In 2000, we also worked to assist Federal Way Police with any criminal follow-ups for those fires.
Pictured above: A box left on a stove top ignited after the owner turned on the oven to heat the house. Investigators turned the box over, showing a darker, charred area toward the back, indicating the area of origin.
New construction continued at a high pace through all of 2000. Some of the larger projects included the new Courtyard by Marriott Hotel and Winco Foods. In addition to these occupancies, several office buildings were opened in the area near Highway 18 and Weyerhaeuser Way. These major occupancies will have high occupant loads. Our inspectors did a great job working with the developers to ensure they were built to the fire code and will be safe for our citizens for many years.
New Inspection Program
Throughout the year, fire inspectors researched and made the first major revisions to the department’s inspection program since it started in the early 1980s. The new program was implemented on January 1, 2001. Looking at today’s fire problem, combined with the increasing training needs in our department, we’ve adopted a modified inspection schedule for lower hazard occupancies. Businesses with good fire safety records have been placed into a self-inspection program. They will complete a series of forms and send them back to the department. Firefighters will conduct a full fire and life safety inspection at those occupancies every two years. This will be less intrusive to the businesses and allow us to focus more on our current needs.
As part of that process, we’ve added fire safety information to the department’s web site specifically aimed at making businesses safer.
Uniform Fire Code Permit Inspections
During 2000 we performed approximately 450 permit inspections. These inspections are in occupancies with higher hazards such as public assembly or cutting and welding operations. To offset the cost of these inspections we collected approximately $144,117 in permit fees.
Two Public Education Officers in this division provided education to the community, coordinated special events and activities, responded to emergency and routine media inquiries, provided one-on-one Fire Stopper education and counseling referral to children and parents, and implemented several new programs. Program highlights include:
In April, two teams of firefighters began teaching in the high schools. “Think Again” is a program aimed at young adults 15 to 19 years old, those most likely to be involved in motor vehicle collisions. During the hour-long presentation, firefighters focus on the affects of drinking and driving and the consequences of other unsafe choices behind the wheel. A back-up team was trained in the fall, as the teaching schedule for 2001 has expanded to included Driver Education students. Evaluations from students and teachers have been very positive. Firefighters taught 1,110 students in 37 classes in 2000.
Fall Prevention Grant and “Remembering When”
Federal Way Fire Department began a Fall Prevention program for senior citizens in 2000, after receiving a grant for $9,000 from Capital One to fund installation of fall risk reduction devices in the homes of low and moderate-income seniors. Fall prevention information was sent to people to whom the department responded because of a fall, provided they were age 55 and over and lived independently (not in assisted living or a nursing home). Fall prevention surveys were conducted by invitation in 51 homes, and risk reduction devices totaling $3,324.82 were installed (an average of $65.19 per home survey, which is close to the $60 initially estimated).
In addition to contacting individual fallers, the fire department partnered with St. Francis, St. Clare and St. Joseph Hospitals and fire departments in Lakewood, Tacoma and Gig Harbor to implement NFPA’s Remembering When program. The program provides a free
luncheon for senior citizens, during which fire and fall safety information is presented. Two Remembering When luncheons were held in Federal Way during 2000. Three are planned for 2001.
The fire department re-introduced its school program in the fall with firefighters teaching Kindergarteners, PEO Goetz teaching 6th graders, and PEO Harms writing a newsletter for all grades. Federal Way crews were also invited to a number of career days, read-alongs, spring carnivals and safety days at individual schools throughout the year.
Emergency Responder Class
In support of a new health class introduced at Thomas Jefferson High School, the fire department coordinated a series of Job Shadows for high schoolers. Students experienced first-hand what happens on calls and the goings-on of a fire station. For several students, the ride-along confirmed their decision to pursue an emergency response career.
EOC Manager Training
Throughout 2000, Fire Marshal Thorson worked closely with the City, Lakehaven Utility District, the School District and the Police Department to better prepare the community for a major disaster. In addition to developing an EOC plan, the first EOC manager training session was conducted for Greater Federal Way EOC personnel. Crisis Management Consultants presented the class. The next training sessions focus on personnel most likely to be called in to staff the EOC. Elected officials will receive EOC training beginning in 2001.