FD 13 leaders project 2023 to be as busy as 2022


January 18, 2023

The past year was a busy one at Fire District 13.

That trend will likely continue this year as the La Conner area district prepares to launch a community paramedicine program while adding a modular residential unit at its Snee-Oosh Road station.

Fire Chief Wood Weiss noted 2022 statistics set new marks for annual demands for service at the commissioners Jan. 12 meeting.

“It was a very big year,” Weiss reported. “Our biggest year pre-COVID was 2019 when we had 1,340 incident calls. We surpassed that in 2022 with 1,413 calls,” with December especially hectic.

“We had all kinds of activity with the floods,” he said. “We ended up with 18 calls on Dec. 27.”

Medical emergencies were over 80 per cent of calls.. Fires comprised about three per cent.

“We’re a fire department,” Weiss said, “but the emergency medical services part of it is huge.”

“We’re looking at upward trajectories coming out of COVID,” added Commission Chair Bruce Shellhamer.

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Police Department is considering providing a surplus vehicle for use by the district’s paramedical staff in lieu of an ambulance, which can seem intimidating to some persons.

“Chief Earl (Cowan) is stepping up and trying to help out with a vehicle,” said Weiss.

The district also anticipates a full slate of training exercises – including addressing wildland fires and harbor emergencies – in 2023.

Weiss and assistant chief Jamie Jurdi said district personnel had taken part the day before in live fire training with Skagit Valley College firefighting students, which also had potential recruiting benefits.

“Three or four of the students said they were interested in the district,” Weiss said.

Weiss has been invited to speak to the college’s firefighting class.

Commissioner John Doyle said the long-sought addition of a three-bedroom, single office residential unit at Station Two for firefighters and emergency medical technicians working overnight is nearing reality.

“We’re finally getting started,” Doyle said. “The porta-potties have been delivered. That’s step one.”

Commissioners ended with a one-hour executive session. Afterward, pay increases based on the Seattle region’s Consumer Price Index were approved for Weiss, Jurdi, district secretary Tracy Berg and chief’s assistant Chris Weiss. Chief Weiss received a merit increase of 2.6 per cent with an extended contract for two years. Berg’s workload was increased from 90 to 110 hours monthly.


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