As the Federal Way Fire Department enters its sixth decade of service to the community, Platoon A continues to meet the challenge. As a shift, we continue to set the example in customer service, both internal and external. As you read about our areas of responsibility, you’ll note that nearly the entire shift is involved in meeting the expectations of the department’s mission statement.
Internal Customer Service
· Station 61 - Uniforms, Bunker Gear Repair, all the district’s sewing projects relating to Tarps, Backboards, EMS and other needed repairs
· Station 62 - Bunker Gear Inventory and Ordering
· Station 63 - Computer Training and Hydrant Testing Inventory
· Station 64 - Hazardous Material Training and Inventory, Inventory Maintenance of Small Firefighting Tools
· Station 65 - Hose Testing, Chainsaw Inventory and Minor Repair
· Station 66 - JATC and Intense Recruit Training
As we enter the year 2001, we will balance out some of these projects, so no one station has a workload that does not meet the needs of our customers.
External Customer Service
Whereas our everyday operations are important, I’d like to make mention of those who do External Customer Service in the following areas:
· Think Again: Kevin Crossen, Barry Hassell, Dan Borg, Eric Suckoll
· Fall Prevention: Lt. Steve Hopf
· Firefighters Foundation: Sven Schievink, Jeff Hamel, Capt. Rick Chaney
The above programs are important in giving us visibility in the community and in the case of the Foundation, visibility on an international front.
Pictured above: Firefighters from the Cabo Fire Department open boxes of bunker gear shipped from the U.S.
Platoon A saw the appointment of firefighter Wendy Chinn to our shift. Along with that, we received firefighters Doug Moul, Ed Rickert and Joe Suver in a transfer that took Geoff Meyers, Laine McGee and Jerry Nevin to other assignments.
Alarms of Note
The last quarter of the year saw an increase of fires in dwellings. Ironically, during the week of, prior to, and after Fire Prevention Week, Federal Way had about 10 working fires in buildings. Although each one has its own story, two alarms stand out as unusual for the department. The first one took place in Station 66’s area last summer. A fully involved garage fire had such intense heat that it ignited the house next door. That problem, along with active power lines, gave responding firefighters multiple challenges at the same time. While very spectacular, the fire was confined to the garage and exterior and attic of the exposure home.
The second one took place in the Spring Valley area. On a cool fall day, a fire broke out in a home that had originally been a log home. Whereas the fire was not spectacular, the work involved was very taxing. Firefighters responding were faced with a fire burning in several confined spaces of the two-story home. That, coupled with a hose lay of 2000 feet to the nearest hydrant made for a long afternoon.
Both of these were what one would call a “firefighter’s fire.” Having to utilize many talents and being disciplined resulted in successful outcomes.
As we are now into the next century, we welcome the challenges that are sure to come upon us.
B-SHIFT: B/C Michael Knorr
B-Shift has had a busy year in support of our community. Twenty-nine people in seven companies make up B-Shift, with one Battalion Chief, two Captains, four Lieutenants and 22 Firefighters. Each of the seven companies are involved in answering alarms, building inspections, hydrant inspection, public education, and most importantly, training. Our preparedness is what you count on.
B-Shift answered thousands of alarms in 2000. A few of the more serious calls include the following:
· A van pulled up to the drive-thru window at Burger King. The owner didn’t know it, but the van’s engine was on fire. Within a short time, the van was fully involved in fire and Burger King’s building wasn’t far behind. A quick attack by Engine 61 kept the fire from reaching the inside of the building. No injuries.
· On May 18, a resident was critically burned while trying to light his wood stove. Arriving crews found the patient in the front yard after he had jumped through a window trying to escape the fire. The gentleman was burned badly, but recently stopped by Station 62 to say hello and express his thanks to all who helped him that day.
· Twenty construction workers were lifting a 12’ x 30’ wall into place during construction of a new housing project. A support gave way and the wall came down on four of the workers. One of the injuries was a severely fractured right femur. That patient’s position of comfort was to hold his right foot in his right hand, near his right ear. Two were sent via Airlift Northwest and one via Medic One to Harborview Medical Center. All were doing well the following day.
· In 2000, we added Joe Eliasen to our shift. Joe brings plenty of experience as a resident and is making great progress in his new career.
· Firefighter Rob Willson completed the department’s Apprenticeship program. This is a three-year program requiring many hours of study and classes. Good job, Rob!
· Firefighters Hak-Soo Kim and Jerry Clos completed their probationary periods for the department. Both have shown great progress in their development as firefighters and are becoming valuable members to the shift and for the community.
· Firefighters Gary Wallace, John Ronald and Jerry Clos were awarded a “Unit Citation” by the department for their performance while on an emergency medical alarm. These firefighters provided a great service to the family of a patient who, unfortunately, could not be revived during a CPR call. Their efforts exceeded normal expectations in service to the community. They provided the family members with human kindness, consideration and empathy.
· Firefighters Steve Crews, Mark McNally, Roy Smith and Dale Blad attended an Advanced Pump Operators class. The class required over 100 hours of their time, but reports are that it was very valuable. They have brought that knowledge back and are already passing it on to other firefighters.
· I was pleased to award Firefighter McNally with his 20-year pin as a member of this department.
· Finally, congratulations to Firefighter Kim and his wife Kristen on the birth of their daughter Sophia Tae.
B-Shift was involved in many public education events this year. Many of the events were impressive, but one stood out from the rest:
· I want to commend the students at Thomas Jefferson High School for their participation in the school disaster drill. The drill simulated a major earthquake at the school with many hurt students and damage to the buildings. The students with leadership roles excelled in their responsibilities. Great job. We hosted 18 of these students from TJ’s Emergency Response Class as they worked with the crews as part of our ride-along program.
Other fine events included:
· Family Fest in August. We had safety exhibits and fire engine tours. Come see us again this year.
· B-Shift hosted Scout Nite at our headquarters station. The festivities included tours of our apparatus, the “Stop, Drop and Roll” dalmatians, a magic show by Paramedic Steve “The Pretty Good,” and, of course … lots of food.
Emergency Medical Services continues to be our overwhelming task. Seventy to 80 percent of our alarms are for medical services, motor vehicle accidents and rescues. We take this responsibility to heart and work hard to maintain our skills. All of our firefighters are Emergency Medical Technicians and receive bi-monthly continuing education classes and quarterly defibrillation classes.
King County EMS estimates that we have a 48 percent survival rate (i.e.discharged from hospital) for persons needing CPR. This percentage is based only on persons who fit the perimeters of their study, but these are excellent numbers when compared to other areas.
This project is headed by Lt. Steve Carlman. Lt. Carlman and his crew continue to maintain and upgrade our equipment while researching new products that will help us serve you better. Lt. Carlman and Firefighter Pat Soper are also involved in a countywide purchasing program that allows our department to get special pricing on supplies and equipment to make your tax dollar stretch further.
Developing computer-generated maps and data about commercial structures helps the companies identify hazardous materials, provides information on building construction, and highlights tactical information prior to entering. This makes our inherently dangerous jobs a little safer. Lt. Chris Murphy and Firefighters Jeff Bellinghausen and Joe Perusse have done a great job with this project and have plans to expand it in 2001.
C-SHIFT: B/C Patrick Kettenring
Meritorious Unit Citation for Valor
Lieutenant Aaron Weeks, Firefighter John Moncrief and Firefighter Merrick McGinnis were recognized with the Meritorious Unit Citation for Valor for a rescue performed at an early-morning apartment fire on June 25. We are all certainly proud of these individuals for their commitment to life-safety and for working hard when the need arises. I am also very proud of all the members who worked at the scene and set the stage for the rescue to become a reality. The aggressive and disciplined actions of first-in units contributed to a rapid knockdown of the fire, allowing for a rapid rescue attempt. All members should be proud of their efforts at this alarm.
Moncrief Named Firefighter of the Year
Firefighter John Moncrief received the Firefighter of the Year award, not only for his day-to-day hard work, but also for his efforts with the patient he helped rescue. John gave of himself to offer support and encouragement, and attempted to bring a sense of normalcy to the patient after the fire. John’s emotional support certainly hastened the recovery of the patient.
Riley Named Officer of the Year
Lieutenant John Riley received the Officer of the Year award for “leading by example.” John profiles to the members of our organization. John consistently provides stability to the shift and exemplifies the work ethic this organization desires. Well done, John!
Respiratory Protection Program Continues
Captain Mark Mannard and Firefighters Dan Rice, Clint Farmer and Pete Knecht continue to expand their role in the Respiratory Protection Program and maintenance of the equipment. Additional requirements have increased their workload, yet they continue to make their work look easy.
Hazardous Materials Equipment Maintained
Lieutenant Dan Dragovich and Firefighters Doug Campbell and Chris Cahan maintain the bulk of the Hazardous Materials equipment at Station 64 for C-shift, while Firefighter Clint Farmer, our lone Hazardous Materials Team member assigned to Station 61, maintains the equipment and training for our shift at his station.
Rescue Team Gets New Blood
Lieutenant Alex Charoni and Firefighters Joel Barrett and Kevin Juma joined the Rescue Team this year. They join senior team members Firefighters Scott Mahlen and Craig Burrus. Although new to the team, these three professionals bring a significant amount of prior rescue training to the team.
England and Weeks Promoted to Lieutenant
Chris England left his role at Station 64 to undertake a new role on C-shift, that of newly appointed Lieutenant. Chris is the “roving” Lieutenant for our shift assigned at Headquarters. Chris works alongside Lieutenant Aaron Weeks who will have a year under his belt as a Lieutenant, around March of 2001. Both of these fine Officers bring enthusiasm to the shift accompanied by outstanding work ethics.
Fromhold Shares Knowledge and Experience
Captain Steve Fromhold, senior member of our shift, continues to be a wealth of knowledge and experience for others to learn from. Steve’s easygoing nature makes it easy to learn from him. I appreciate his willingness to share and mentor shift personnel. Steve won’t last forever; if you desire the benefit of his experiences, don’t wait too long!
The list of activities C-shift personnel excel in continues to grow each and every year. Every member of the shift uses their unique strength to help and guide others, and suspends their influence when someone else can step up and lead. I am proud of all their accomplishments this year. I am most proud, however, of their growth as professionals. The stability and spirit I have the opportunity to work with each day makes me very proud of the individuals we know as C-shift, a truly remarkable team.