CKFR Partners with Kitsap Transit to Provide a Safe Haven for Firefighters

As firefighters continue working on the frontline in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s impossible for them to practice social distancing, therefore they risk exposing their families every time they return home from a shift. This is especially concerning for firefighters that have a vulnerable family member at home. CKFR now has an established “safe haven” for First Responders. This facility will be used only for EMS personnel that have not been knowingly exposed, are asymptomatic and continue to be schedule for work.

“These frontline Firefighters and EMS personnel are risking their lives every day, they should not be asked to risk their loves ones at home, especially if they are vulnerable to the COVID-19 disease,” said Fire Chief John Oliver.

As an organization that places our employees as our greatest asset we’re grateful for a unique relationship that had previously been established with Kitsap Transit regarding the surplus building at 1480 NW Sid Uhnick Drive.

Over the past month, CKFR was allowed to use the structure for training. The building has now been outfitted as a safe haven.

When the Mattress Ranch heard about the project, they generously donated 11 twin mattresses for use in the facility.

“The battle with COVID-19 is being fought at the local level across this nation, collaboration between local government and private business such as this will help our community weather the storm, “ said Chief Oliver.

Kitsap Transit’s support of those on the frontline is incredible. They have pledged to continue maintaining the mechanical and sanitary systems while we take care of internal furnishing and cleaning. CKFR will make this safe haven available to other essential service workers as needs arise.

Declaration of Emergency Approved

Fire and Emergency Medical Services are essential to society and cannot falter, even as a historic pandemic strikes the heart of our country. Resiliency and maintaining these lifesaving services are the direct responsibility of your elected board of Fire Commissioners and the Fire Chief. The entire administration has worked behind the scenes to identify core support functions of the Fire District and put in place functions that ensure we continue to provide the service levels our citizens deserve.

The final act to put these measures in place was a Declaration of Emergency approved unanimously by the Board of Commissioners on March 23rd. This act provides unique and temporary powers onto the Fire Chief to take all necessary action, within legal requirements, to ensure the health and safety of employees and the public in response to the emergency caused by COVID-19 in Central Kitsap.

This includes waiving certain contracting and budget requirements, authorizing staff to implement emergency purchasing requirements, and take other steps in response to the emergency.

This proclamation remains in effect until modified by the Board of Commissioners.

Help Your Local First Responders Fight COVID-19 Through Self-Reporting in Community Connect

We will always respond when you need us. With COVID-19 cases present in our community, there’s a new opportunity for you to help your first responders stay safe when responding to your home. Community Connect bridges the information gap before 9-1-1 is called, allowing you to share specific information about your household so that we may better serve you during an emergency.

Now, there’s a special section for COVID-19. By answering a few questions regarding the health of members in your household, our crews will know what precautions they need to take when responding while also gaining visibility into how this Health Crisis is affecting our community as a whole. This information remains private and is only accessible when responding specifically to your address.

To begin, just visit https://www.communityconnect.io/covid-19 and enter your address.  The program will make sure you’re directed to the correct fire department that serves your location.

You may already be familiar with Community Connect if you have already completed your home’s profile or even if you’ve applied for a burn permit online.  If so, the same login will give you access to fill out different sections such as pet information, functional needs in the household, where the gas and water shutoffs are located, and more. If not, everyone nationwide now has access to self-report their COVID-19 related information in addition to the Community Connect instances already up and running in some districts such as Kitsap County, many departments in Pierce County, Lacey, and Eastside.

Community Connect comes to you after more than a year of collaborative work between Kitsap County’s public safety agencies and First Due, a provider of cutting edge technology for our first responders and builders of Community Connect programs around the country.

So please, take a few minutes to visit https://www.communityconnect.io/covid-19 to #selfreport. Beating COVID-19 will take everyone’s help, and your First Responders are already thankful for yours.

CKFR Puts Special Unit In Service

Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue is dedicated to serving our community with a high level of service. That’s why in the near future you may see a special rig, TDU 50, responding to calls. TDU stands for Tactical Deployment Unit.

When dealing with increased call volume, as we may soon see with the COVID-19 global pandemic, or during peak flu season, there is a need for “in-field based community medicine.” This means we’ll use our experienced staff to assist our local health care system so that we may all work more efficiently.

TDU 50 is a pick-up truck staffed with a Paramedic and EMT. This crew will respond to calls involving “flu-like” symptoms to assess, treat, and determine if there is a need to transport the patient.

We’re Still Open and Here For You

As many businesses are closed during this time, we want to reassure you that Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue is still open for business and here for you. Our fire stations are at full staffing and administration continues to operate behind the scenes supporting the frontline.

Business is being conducted electronically as well as in person. Currently all uniformed administrative personnel, such as the Fire Chief, are still reporting to our Administration Building on Newberry Hill Road. All non-uniformed admin staff are now working from home for the safety of themselves, their families, and our firefighters.

We want you to know you can still access all of our services, such as burn permits. Our main line, 360-447-3550, is still being answered and each employee’s desk phone has been forwarded to their home office.
Please visit us at www.ckfr.org or any of our social media platforms:

Facebook: @CKfireandrescue
Twitter: @CKFireRescue
Instagram: centralkitsapfire

Public Invited as Board Meets on Bond Resolution for Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue

The Board of Fire Commissioners for Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue will meet to discuss a resolution asking voters to consider a bond to fund station-improvement projects. If the resolution is approved, voters would see the measure on the August 4 Primary Election ballot.

The meeting will take place on Monday, March 23 at 4:00 pm at 5300 NW Newberry Hill Road in Silverdale (98383). The public is invited and encouraged to attend. Individuals who are unable to attend, but would still like to provide public comment, are encouraged to contact Chief John Oliver at [email protected], or by letter at the above address. All comments are welcome and become part of the public record.

The District spent two years assessing its fire stations through a comprehensive Capital Facilities Plan. The plan identified needed facility improvements for community safety and to provide a healthier work environment for firefighters.

For example, many stations are nearly 60 years old, and none are up to current seismic standards. Engineers have identified several that would be in danger of collapsing even with a small earthquake. This could jeopardize the District’s ability to respond to emergency calls during such an event. Several stations also are located significant distances away from populated areas, which increases response times. 

The stations lack effective exhaust removal systems and decontamination areas that reduce firefighter exposure to carcinogens and infectious diseases. Many stations also are not equipped with modern fire and life safety systems such as security cameras, commercial fire alarms and sprinklers. Some have been subjected to break ins.

Apparatus is a significant investment for taxpayers with a basic fire engine starting at approximately $500,000. Many stations are too small to shelter modern apparatus, which leaves it exposed to weather and reduces its lifespan.

Capital facilities are too expensive to fund through the District’s regular operating levies without cutting service levels. The facilities bond would be 32 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. Even with the bond, the average homeowner would still see a net decrease of $24 per year in the taxes they pay to the District compared to what they paid in 2019.

The decrease is possible because an excess levy has expired and an old bond for apparatus will be paid off before the new bond would take effect in 2021. The District planned a possible bond request to coincide with the retirement of the other funding measures to reduce impacts to taxpayers.

More information about the bond proposal, including a copy of the Capital Facilities Plan, can be found on the District’s website at www.ckfr.org. Chief John Oliver also welcomes questions at (360) 447-3566 or [email protected].

Occupants Safe After Fire

At approximately 11:12 am today, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue received a call of a possible residential structure fire in the 18000 block of NW Stavis Bay Road.  The occupants told 911 that there was black smoke coming from the attic. Engine 56 was first on scene and the crew confirmed it was an active fire and upgraded the call to a 2nd Alarm.  The structure was a medium sized, single family home and all occupants and a dog were outside and safe.

The fire was contained to the attic and extinguished, but there was heavy smoke and water damage throughout the home. The Kitsap County Fire Marshal was dispatched to investigate the cause.

Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue Shares Station Challenges

Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue passed a Capital Facilities Plan last year that outlined how it would consolidate and improve nine fire stations. The purpose of these projects is to improve community safety and create a healthier work environment for firefighters.

Capital facilities are too expensive to fund through the District’s regular operating levies. The Board of Fire Commissioners is considering asking voters to approve a bond to fund these projects. The bond is projected to be 32 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. At this amount, the average homeowner would see a net decrease of $24 per year in the taxes they pay to the District compared to what they paid in 2019. This is because an excess levy has expired and an old bond for apparatus will be paid off before the new bond would take effect in 2021.

Fire Chief John Oliver says that this is an opportunity to meet the District’s capital facility needs for 50 years while reducing impacts to taxpayers. Chief Oliver is planning tours of the existing facilities for interested community members later in the year. In the meantime, he wanted to profile some of the more challenging station issues.

Seismic Issues:
The fact is that all of the District’s stations are not up to current seismic standards and are in danger of collapsing in the event of an earthquake. This would hamper the District’s efforts to reach people during an emergency.

Location:
Stations 52 (Olympic View), 54 (Hintzville) and 55 (Lake Tahuyeh) are located in areas away from population centers. This delays response times for emergency calls.

The bond would replace Station 52 with a new facility at Anderson Hill and Olympic View. It also would combine stations 54 and 55 into one facility at Coho Way and Seabeck Holly (Station 57) to better serve the Lake Symington area.

“Some of our stations were donated or built before we knew where our population centers would be,” said Chief Oliver. “We have the chance to fix that now.”

Firefighter Health & Safety:
Cancer is a leading cause of death for firefighters. Some of the District’s 60-year old stations lack effective diesel exhaust removal systems and decontamination areas to reduce firefighter exposure to carcinogens and infectious diseases.

Captain Brock Shaffer took time to share information about Station 51 (Silverdale). This is one of the busiest stations for the District.

“The asphalt in the parking lot is falling apart. The roof leaks and the main sewer drain backs up. That’s inconvenient, but there’s more,” said Captain Shaffer. “We have a problem with diesel exhaust in the laundry room. We use that room to decontaminate our gear after fire exposure. We have vents to circulate air around the gear, but diesel fumes come in from other parts of the station as rigs are dispatched.”

Security is also a concern. Station 55 (Lake Tahuyeh) is in a remote location and has been subjected to several break ins. Many of the District’s stations lack proper security systems to protect the facilities and personnel who use them.

Apparatus:
The size of emergency apparatus has increased since most of the District’s stations were built 60 years ago. Most of the current facilities cannot shelter modern fire engines, water tenders or ambulances, which represent a significant investment for taxpayers. This leaves them exposed to weather and reduces their usable life.

Next Steps:
More information on the proposed bond can be found on the District’s website at www.ckfr.org. The Board of Fire Commissioners will hold a public hearing on March 23, 2020 to take community input on the idea of a facilities bond. The meeting will take place at 4:30 pm at 5300 NW Newberry Hill Road in Silverdale (98383). Chief John Oliver also welcomes questions at [email protected] or (360) 447-3566. If the Board decides to place a bond on the ballot, voters would see the proposal on their August Primary Election ballot.

Eleven Firefighters for Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue Community

Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue welcomed 11 new firefighters in 2020. The new hires were in response to increasing call volumes and retirements.  The positions are funded out of the District’s operating levy paid through property taxes.

CKFR funds daily emergency operations through two operating levies. One is a Fire Levy of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. The other is a levy for emergency medical service (EMS) at $0.50 per $1,000. A small portion of revenue also is raised by reimbursed costs for ambulance transports.

At times, the District may ask voters for temporary funding through a Maintenance and Operations Levy. Voters approved an M&O Levy during the last recession that expired in 2019 as the economy improved.

Capital items – like stations, fire engines and ambulances – are funded through bonds. Currently, the District has a bond for apparatus that will be paid off at the end of 2020. CKFR is considering asking voters to approve a bond to improve its facilities that would take effect after the old apparatus bond retires. Fire Chief John Oliver says that the timing on this is strategic and deliberate in consideration of the tax impacts to citizens. 

“We can address our facility needs for the next 50 years while reducing impacts to taxpayers,” said Chief John Oliver. “This is a rare opportunity, which is why we’re having this conversation with our community now.”

For example, none of CKFR’s fire stations are up to current seismic standards. Engineers have identified several that would be in danger of collapsing even with a small earthquake. This could jeopardize the ability of personnel to respond to emergency calls during such an event. Several stations also are located significant distances away from populated areas, which increases emergency response times. 

Improving firefighter health and safety also is an issue. Cancer is a leading cause of death for emergency personnel. The current stations lack effective exhaust removal systems and decontamination areas that reduce firefighter exposure to carcinogens and infectious diseases. Many stations also are not equipped with modern fire and life safety systems such as security cameras, commercial fire alarms and sprinklers. 

The Board of Fire Commissioners will hold a public hearing on March 23, 2020 to take community input on the idea of a facilities bond. If the Board decides to place a bond on the ballot and voters approve it, taxpayers would see a net decrease in taxes they pay to the District in 2021 compared to 2019. This is because the M&O Levy expired and the apparatus bond will be paid off.

The District has developed a Capital Facilities Plan that identifies station projects to improve community safety and create a healthier work environment for firefighters. CKFR spent two years developing the Plan, a copy of which is available on the agency’s website at www.ckfr.org.

“We want our community to know how emergency services are funded,” said Chief Oliver. “We have given this careful thought and planning.”