Resident quarters at Snee-Oosh Road fire station almost done


February 15, 2023

Patience is about to be rewarded at Fire District 13.

The long-planned modular residential unit for firefighters and emergency medical technicians was scheduled to be delivered to the Snee-Oosh Road station this week and is expected to be ready for use in March, commissioner John Doyle said during the panel’s Feb. 9 hybrid meeting.

The unit’s ramping and decking, required for permit approval – plus utility hookups – should be completed within three weeks, he reported.

Doyle and commission chair Bruce Shellhamer voted to approve payments of around $145,000 on the unit and for related site work. Commissioner J.J. Wilbur, a Swinomish Tribal Senator and La Conner School board member, was at a meeting in Olympia and unable to attend.

Fire Chief Wood Weiss suggested the residential unit’s arrival merits a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Are we going to do the big thing with scissors?” he asked.

Shellhamer and Doyle suggested a firefighting tool, such as an axe, as more appropriate.

Another new addition will be a Ford Focus or Fusion provided by Swinomish Police for the district’s new CARES (Community Assistance Resource and Education Services) program. CARES facilitates the health care needs of district and tribal community at-risk populations for geriatric, pediatric, behavioral and mental health conditions.

Two full-time district firefighting positions can be filled upon arrival of a CARES program grant award, Weiss added.

Weiss has begun training for the annual Columbia Tower Stair Climb in Seattle next month. Firefighters pack 60 pounds of gear up 1,311 steps – 69 flights of stairs – as a fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

“It’s a lovely way to suffer,” Weiss said of the cause’s merits.

He is seeking sponsorship for his entry, noting, “You need a certain amount of money pledged to make the climb.” Medical officer Drew Farrell reported that the district provided 16 patient transports to hospitals in January and another seven in the first week of February.

Training officer Chris Olbu said the district’s February training will focus on HAZMAT (hazardous materials).

“It’s pretty important training around here,” said Olbu. “There’s a lot of potential (for emergencies) with our highways and railroad. I want to provide the tools needed for us to be prepared. I remember the time sheriff’s deputies pursued someone who ended up pulling directly into a railroad butane car.”

Capt. Ted Taylor, who oversees the district’s emergency management, logged in from aptly named Hurricane, Utah. Taylor said the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria is a reminder that tragedy can occur suddenly and without warning.

“But,” he stressed, “the more you go without one, the more likely we’ll have one.”

Taylor said there will be two major emergency drills in October, one for community members and one for responders.


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