2017 Press Releases
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December 20, 2017
TWELVE GRADUATE VOLUNTEER-INTERN/RESIDENT FIREFIGHTER ACADEMY
Candidates are a step closer to achieving their dream of fire service careers
(KINGSTON, Wash.) – Twelve volunteers from two area fire departments marked the conclusion of an intensive 15-week firefighter academy in graduation ceremonies here on Saturday. The event included awards recognizing achievements and a live demonstration of the participants’ firefighting skills. It also marked the accomplishment of an important step in the volunteers’ quest for paid positions in the fire service.
Participants included volunteers from the host agency, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R), as well as from East Jefferson Fire – Rescue (EJFR). Eighteen started the program in September but attrition reduced the number to a dozen by last weekend’s graduation. According to NKF&R Assistant Chief and Academy Drillmaster Sean Moran, several candidates left due to existing injuries aggravated by the rigors of firefighter training. Several others found the training to be too difficult physically and/or academically. One left because he’d achieved the goal of the volunteer program – an offer of employment from a fire department.
During the academy, students combined classroom lectures and reading with practical exercises to meet the standards required to test for Firefighter I certification. Three graduates of the districts’ volunteer-intern/resident programs, now working as paid firefighters — NKF&R Lieutenants Mark Cooney and Michael Mock, and EJFR Firefighter Curtis Sanders – served as instructors. All students passed both practical and written certification exams. The graduates are:
Austin C. Bach, 19, of Mountlake Terrace
James M. Dilger, 18, of Bothell
Brooks P. Ellingsen, 21, of Poulsbo
Aidan M. Fleming, 19, of Tacoma
Nathan M. LaPlante, 35, of Indianola (previously of Cut Bank, MT)
Hayden J. Smallbeck, 20, of Kingston
Colin R. Stone, 23, of Kingston
Tanner E. Stracener, 20, of Poulsbo
Andrew J. Dalrymple, 44, of Chimacum
Robert M. Grimm, 39, of Port Townsend
Jacob P. Kinney, 19, of Chimacum
Patrick M. Williams, 29, of Port Townsend
Completion of the firefighter academy is one of several important steps in both districts’ career-oriented training programs for volunteers. These programs offer participants the opportunity to acquire qualifications to better compete for paid fire service jobs, while providing the community with additional response personnel to augment the districts’ permanent staffing. Starting at the first of the year, the graduates will add to their resumes with real-life experience while serving as volunteers on shift alongside the districts’ paid personnel. They’ll receive additional training in emergency medicine, hazardous materials, fire pump/engine operations, public fire/injury prevention, marine firefighting/rescue and more. NKF&R’s volunteer-intern program has been in place for thirty years; nearly 200 past members have used it as a launching pad to emergency services careers in Washington state and beyond.
Several graduates were honored with awards during Saturday’s ceremonies. EJFR’s Dalrymple was recognized as the class’s valedictorian for achieving the highest academic scores during the academy. NKF&R’s Stone was selected by his peers as the academy’s most inspirational member, providing his fellow students with support and encouragement throughout. Dalrymple and Stone, along with EJFR’s Kinney, were named “Bulldogs” during the course of the academy. Instructors designate students as Bulldogs when the recipients demonstrate a special degree of tenacity, leadership, commitment to teamwork and ability to overcome adversity. Dalrymple, EJFR’s Grimm, NKF&R’s Stracener and NKF&R’s Ellingsen were named to the Chief’s Company. Selected by the drillmaster, recipients’ individual skills, attitude and team spirit earned them a spot on this academy’s ideal truck or engine company.
To learn more about the districts’ volunteer intern/resident firefighter programs, see the agencies’ web sites: https://www.nkfr.org/about-us/people/ and http://www.ejfr.org/about/humans/opportunities.php. http://www.ejfr.org/about/humans/opportunities.php
December 12, 2017
NEW YEAR BRINGS NEW COMMISSIONER TO NORTH-END FIRE AGENCY
Veteran NKF&R fire commissioner retires after decades of public service; successor with public service background elected to the open seat
(KINGSTON, Wash.) – After 45 years in the fire service, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) Fire Commissioner Fernando “Espy” Espinosa is handing off his helmet to John Huntington, a former Washington State Patrol detective elected to the open seat last fall. The retiring commissioner and his successor are both military veterans with deep experience in emergency response; both men share a clear commitment to public service as well.
“Country and community.” When asked why he’s volunteered with the fire department for so long, that’s what Fernando “Espy” Espinosa – a man who prefers actions over words — says. During his decades of service, Espinosa has helped ensure that emergency services have evolved to meet the needs of the growing community. The Vietnam veteran is a native of Kansas but spent most of his youth in Detroit, Michigan. He came to the area in 1969 with his wife, Rita, and family after leaving the U.S. Navy. Espinosa moved to Suquamish in 1972 to take a civilian job at NUWC Keyport and, shortly thereafter, volunteered with Kitsap County Fire District #4 (KCFD #4 – Suquamish) at the urging of the district’s Chief Leroy Todd. Before joining the district’s Board of Fire Commissioners in 1987, Espinosa served as a firefighter and even had a stint as fire chief. He was instrumental in the merger of KCFD #4 into the then-KCFD #10 (Kingston) following the voters’ 1993 approval of the proposal. The combined district changed its name to North Kitsap Fire & Rescue.
Much more has changed during Espinosa’s decades of service. At the time that he joined the department, it was all-volunteer. Firefighters responded to less than 20 calls a year. Suquamish Ambulance handled the medical calls which totaled less than 70 a year. Today, NKF&R responds to more than 3,000 medical and fire calls a year with a combination of paid and volunteer personnel. There was no 9-1-1 service in the beginning; it wasn’t established in Suquamish until 1977; before then, emergencies were reported to a seven-digit phone number and firefighters were summoned to the station by a siren. Today, Kitsap 9-1-1 receives emergency calls countywide and quickly dispatches the necessary resources via radio. During Espinosa’s time as a firefighter, major capital projects (such as the addition of apparatus bays to the Suquamish fire station and the purchase of a new ambulance) could be funded by rummage sales and pancake breakfasts. Today, such events can’t possibly raise enough to meet the $150,000 -200,000 price tag for just one new ambulance. For nearly 50 years, volunteers provided response to the citizens of KCFD #4. However, Espinosa and others saw that the area was expanding past the capabilities of the dedicated but dwindling volunteer corps. As part of the merger agreement, the Suquamish fire station was remodeled and, in 1996, full-time staffing began at the station. Emergency response times improved dramatically. Says Espinosa, “I could finally sleep well at night, knowing that there would always be well-trained firefighters assigned to the station, ready to respond. I knew that the community would be getting the service it needed.”
Espinosa retired from civil service at Keyport after 30 years in 2005 and lost his beloved Rita in 2011. He is a proud member of the Suquamish Warriors, a group of local veterans and supporters that provide honors and assistance to fellow former soldiers and sailors. After decades of service on the local and the federal levels, the 80 year-old is taking some time to follow one of his personal dreams: prospecting. Early next year, Espinosa will head to Alaska with his step-son where the pair will hunt, camp and pan for gold. Says NKF&R Fire Chief Dan Smith, “We hope they hit the motherlode. But, even if they do, it couldn’t measure up to the value of all that Espy has given — to country and community.”
John Huntington was elected in November to fill the seat on the NKF&R Board of Fire Commissioners that Espinosa had
occupied for 30 years. To the position, Huntington brings a deep knowledge of emergency services, investigations and adult training/education as well as a demonstrated commitment to public service. A retired Washington State Patrol detective currently investigating environmental crimes for the Washington State Attorney General’s office, the 56 year-old Huntington is a Seattle native and well-known in the Kingston community. He is a veteran of both the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard. Huntington and his wife, Susan (a kindergarten teacher at David Wolfle Elementary School), have lived here since early in their 33-year marriage; they raised three girls: Sarah, 30, a forensic anthropologist; Melinda, 28, a nurse; and, Jessica, 25, a lieutenant junior-grade in the U.S. Navy. Huntington has an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice, a Bachelor’s Degree in Workforce Training and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership.
Not only does Huntington know emergency services from decades of serving alongside firefighters at car crashes and other incidents, he’s given us permission to tell you that he’s come to know us as a customer, too. He has been treated and transported by NKF&R crews twice – once, when he experienced a near-fatal heart attack in 2013 and more recently, when he suffered broken ribs in a fall.
Asked why he wanted to join NKF&R’s governing body, Huntington says that he’d always planned to serve the district once he’d retired. When he learned that Espinosa was stepping down, an opportunity presented itself sooner than he’d expected. “I want to give back,” he says. “To the district that supported me as a trooper and a detective, to the firefighters that saved my life and to the community that’s been my home for over thirty years.”
Interestingly, not only do Espinosa and Huntington share a strong service ethic, they also share a birthday. Both were born on July 11.
NKF&R’s Board of Fire Commissioners is composed of five positions. Members of the Board, acting as representatives of the public to oversee management of the fire district, are elected at-large to staggered six-year terms. Meetings are held at the district’s headquarters fire station (26642 Miller Bay Road NE near Kingston) on the second and fourth Mondays of the month, beginning at 7 p.m.
NKF&R will honor Espinosa and his service at a casual reception, open to the public, on Wednesday, January 3 at 4 p.m. Huntington will be sworn in to his new position at the district’s regular Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, December 26 at 7:15 p.m. in the district’s headquarters fire station (26642 Miller Bay Road NE near Kingston). All meetings are open to the public.
November 2, 2017
FIRE DAMAGES HANSVILLE HOME
Woman and dog barely escape flames
(HANSVILLE, Wash.) – One woman was transported to Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton as a precaution after she may have suffered some smoke inhalation while escaping a fire in her Point No Point Road home here this afternoon. Both the woman and her tenant, who was away at the time of the blaze, have been displaced by the incident which appears to have started in or near electrical wiring in the ceiling of a ground floor room.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department crews were called to the 1,900 SF, two-story house at 2:11 p.m. on Thursday after multiple 9-1-1 callers reported the fire. The first crew on the scene from the district’s Hansville station arrived within about 6 minutes of dispatch. They found the woman and her dog safely outside with smoke pouring from both levels of the structure. With water supply secured by a fire hydrant directly across the street, firefighters were able to stop the flames from causing additional damage. About one-half of the home’s first floor (a bedroom and a combination bathroom/laundry room) and contents suffered serious fire damage while another bedroom and the garage, also on the first floor, appear to have been protected by closed doors. Some plastic items melted from heat on the home’s second floor but the upper level was mostly affected by heavy smoke alone.
The woman told officials that she had been in the living room upstairs when she heard an unusual sound coming from below and headed down to investigate. When she got close to the bottom of the stairs, she found smoke and heat. She made her escape through the man door leading from the first floor into the garage and used the relatively-safe exterior stairs to reach her dog, still on the second floor.
Investigators from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene. Physical indicators point to the ceiling in one of the downstairs bedrooms as the likely origin of the blaze. Witness statements and evidence suggest that the cause may have been electrical. Highly combustible materials such as particle board used on the ceilings and pressboard wallcoverings likely contributed to the fire’s apparent rapid growth.
While there were two smoke alarms in the home, batteries were missing from both. Officials note almost 60% of all home fire deaths occur in houses with no working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms provide vital early warning, allowing occupants time to make a safe escape. In today’s incident, the fire wasn’t detected until it was nearly too late.
There were no other injuries to firefighters or civilians. The homeowner is insured; both occupants are staying with friends. The American Red Cross is also assisting.
October 14, 2017
BUSINESSES CLOSED AFTER CAR CRASHES INTO BUILDING
(KINGSTON, Wash.) – No one was injured but a strip mall was damaged and the six businesses there temporarily shuttered after a car struck the building here this afternoon.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to Kingston Crossing’s Building A at 8202 NE SR 104 at about 12:40 p.m. on Saturday. Arriving on scene, they found that a mid-sized sedan had apparently crashed into the back of the nearly10,000 SF masonry structure. At the car bumper’s level, the building was pushed in over a foot at the location of the structure’s electrical meters. Inside, in the restroom serving an Edward Jones office, the toilet had been pushed off its connections. An occupant of the office acted quickly, shutting down water to limit additional damage.
The driver of the car, an 80 year-old Kingston woman, denied any injuries. She told crews that she’d mistaken the car’s accelerator pedal for the brake pedal.
Because of the damage to the electrical system, fi ters shut down power to the building which forced the six tenants to close their businesses. As of late this afternoon, an electrician was on the scene to make repairs. It is unknown when the building will be opening again.
October 13, 2017
FIRE ALARM SAVES HOME
Firefighters summoned in time to snuff accidental fire before it could spread
(INDIANOLA, Wash.) – Combustibles left atop a stove burst into flames apparently after the appliance’s controls were accidentally moved into the “on” position this evening. The smoke generated by the growing fire tripped the home’s monitored fire alarm system, automatically dispatching firefighters to the incident. Crews were able to stop the small fire’s progress and to clear the home of remaining smoke and fumes, significantly limiting damage.
A North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crew was called to an address on the Indianola Spit at 5:41 p.m. after a fire alarm monitoring company reported the system’s activation to the local emergency dispatch center, Kitsap 911. Firefighters arrived on scene approximately 8-1/2 minutes after dispatch to find the 2,300 square foot, two story house entirely filled with smoke. They immediately requested additional units to handle what appeared to be (and, without the early warning to firefighters, likely would have become) a house fire. As crews sped from across North Kitsap, the initial responders forced their way into the locked structure and located the source of the smoke. After extinguishing the materials on the stove top and checking to make sure the fire hadn’t spread beyond its origin, they canceled the other units and worked on clearing the fumes from the home.
An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene, and determined that the fire was likely accidental in origin. The house is being remodeled. The homeowners were temporarily storing items on the stove and countertops to provide access to construction crews. Workers in the home at the end of the day were working in that area and likely bumped the stove to activate the burners. NKF&R Battalion Chief Ken LeMay observed that it’s never a good idea to leave combustibles on any heat source – operating or not — and expressed his appreciation for the alarm system. “Without the alarm system’s early warning, that fire had plenty of fuel to grow undetected into something much bigger and more destructive.” The district’s spokeswoman Michele Laboda says, “Monitored fire alarm systems are fairly inexpensive and the costs can easily be recouped with the resulting lower fire insurance rates.” She adds, “Today, with nearly all the loss avoided, this system paid for itself in one event.”
There was no one in the home at the time of the incident, and no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
August 10, 2017
STATEMENT TO THE PUBLIC
To the people we serve:
As many in our community have been following the civil case arising from the July 2014 fatal crash between one of
our fire engines and Jason Foster, we are writing to share that NKF&R will not be pursuing an appeal of the jury
verdict. After careful consideration of the time and cost involved in an appeal, it was decided to settle this case.
Following the verdict, our legal counsel and insurer initially felt there was a sound basis for appeal and we
communicated this in our statement of May 26. However, after appellate counsel was retained, it was determined
that the amount of the jury’s award would likely withstand an appeal.
This was a fully insured incident, accurately reported, investigated and covered. The settlement comes at no
financial expense to the communities of North Kitsap, and we have the continued assurance of our insurance
carrier that this will not affect our premiums or ability to get insurance in the future.
We believe this decision was made for the best interest of everyone involved, and our thoughts and prayers will
always be with the Foster family. We hope that concluding this matter will afford them the opportunity to heal and
allow us to return our entire focus to serving you.
If you have a question or concern, please let me know directly. Call me at (360) 297-3619. Send a message to me
at firstname.lastname@example.org. Come to our Board of Fire Commissioners meetings on the second and fourth Mondays at 7:15
p.m. at our headquarters station near Kingston. We will do our best to answer your questions and respond to your
concerns, to the full extent we are able.
July 14, 2017
KINGSTON MAN SUFFERS BURNS IN COOKING FIRE
(KINGSTON, Wash.) — A Kingston man was airlifted to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center with burns after a pan of oil caught fire at his home on Thursday evening.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were dispatched to a report of injuries following a fire, now out. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they found the man with second degree burns to his entire right arm. He told crews that a pan of oil had been set on the stove to heat. After leaving the kitchen for a brief time, the man and his wife returned to find the pan ablaze. While his wife went to the home’s electrical panel to secure the stove’s circuit breaker, the man attempted to carry the flaming pan outside and the hot liquid sloshed onto his arm. Damage to the home itself was limited; light smoke and heat damage affected the stove, the stove vent and the cabinets above.
Due to the severity and location of the burn, paramedics called for an Airlift Northwest helicopter to land at David Wolfle Elementary School and transport the man from there to the regional burn center at Harborview.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, cooking is the leading cause of fires in the United States. Unattended cooking is the most common factor in these incidents. Firefighters say that these types of fires are best prevented by remaining in the kitchen when using stoves. They recommend keeping a pan lid handy – especially when cooking with oil or grease — and, in the event that fire breaks out, using the lid to smother the flames.
July 12, 2017
BOYS SAFE AFTER BEING SWEPT AWAY BY CURRENT WHILE SWIMMING AT POINT NO POINT
Neither was wearing a life jacket
(HANSVILLE, Wash.) – Two boys from Central Kitsap are now safe on shore despite some tense moments when Wednesday afternoon’s strong winds and currents overwhelmed the pair’s ability to swim back to the shores of Point No Point Park.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were dispatched to the park at 3:41 p.m. when several persons called 9-1-1 to report the boys’ calls for help from about 100 feet off shore. Firefighters from NKF&R’s Hansville station went directly to the park while crews from South Kingston headed to the nearby marina to get underway in the district’s fire-rescue boat. Rescue boats from Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue and the U.S. Coast Guard also responded. Without life jackets, the 11 and 12 year-olds were supported only by a boogie board. The first crews to arrive noted that the boys were struggling. While the rescue boats sped to the scene, firefighters broadcast on the marine distress frequency in an attempt to get assistance from any passing boats that might be already in the area; none responded. From the shore, firefighters directed the boys to let the current carry them into calmer waters where they were able to paddle into the beach south of the park’s lighthouse.
Before any of the rescue boats arrived and about 25 minutes after firefighters were called, the pair was safely out of the water — very cold and tired but otherwise apparently uninjured. After about a half hour warming up in NKF&R’s medic unit, the boys left with the adults who’d brought them to the popular beach.
The district’s new fire-rescue boat, funded by a federal grant in 2015, is moored at Port of Kingston Marina and centrally-located to NKF&R’s service area. Through an interlocal agreement between agencies, the district’s first boat is now operated by Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue across the Hood Canal and well-positioned to assist there as well as along NKF&R’s northernmost shorelines. Despite this, response times over the water are naturally much longer than those on land and firefighters urge the public to do their part to remain safe on and around the waters of Puget Sound. They point to the potential danger of sites like Point No Point, where strong winds and currents can quickly combine with the water’s frigid temperature to endanger even the most capable and experienced swimmers. In July 2011, five teenaged swimmers at the same location and without life jackets found themselves in peril after their makeshift raft disintegrated. That group was saved when bystanders stepped in to help them to shore.
July 7, 2017
BRUSH FIRE CONSUMES AN ACRE IN NORTH KITSAP
Fireworks appear to be the cause
(Between POULSBO and KINGSTON, Wash.) – A wildland fire, thought to have been sparked by fireworks, scorched about an acre of vegetation and threatened nearby forest here this afternoon. Thirteen firefighters spent three hours and several thousand gallons of water to stop the flames before afternoon winds pushed the fire into heavier timber at the site.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to a sand pit on Port Gamble Road just before 1 p.m. on Friday. A passerby reported smoke and flames visible from the site. The location, situated on the west side of the road between its intersections with Bond Road/SR 307 and SR 104, appears to be used for a range of purposes. There was evidence of earlier outdoor fires, spent shell casings, and at least three piles of fireworks debris. Spent bottle rockets and other firework devices were found throughout the areas charred by today’s blaze. Although there were no nearby structures, thick forest surrounded the site and flames had already scorched the closest stands of young Douglas Fir.
The first unit was on scene within 8 minutes reported a slow-moving fire across grasses, bushes and light trees in very steep terrain. Crews were able to quickly knock down the flames to stop further spread, but additional resources and time were necessary to dig through deep duff and fully extinguish deep-seated hot spots. Several members of NKF&R’s wildland team applied the skills they’ve honed during deployments to Eastern Washington fires. With no nearby fire hydrants, water for the battle was supplied by large tanker trucks.
Though other ignition sources could not be ruled out, officials say that evidence at the scene – chiefly, the abundance of related debris — points to a fireworks-sparked incident. Crews also note that the depth of the fire suggests that it may have slowly smoldered for several days before it was reported. “Had this incident occurred after several more days of dry weather,” observes NKF&R Spokeswoman Michele Laboda, “The outcome could have been much worse.” As fire danger continues to rise, officials urge caution with all ignition sources. Kitsap County has not yet instituted an outdoor burn ban for this summer.
There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
June 25, 2017
HOT TEMPS RAISE FIRE DANGER
Poorly-snuffed burn pile spreads to scorch quarter-acre between Kingston and Hansville
(KINGSTON, Wash.) – A quarter-acre of trees and brush has been scorched in a blaze that apparently started with a controlled outdoor fire from last week. Though this morning’s winds were pushing the flames toward a nearby home, crews were able to squelch it with about 2,000 gallons of water and two hours of digging.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to a location on the east side of Hansville Road, across from the Point Casino, at 8:50 a.m. on Sunday. A passerby called in the incident, seeing smoke coming from a location about 200 feet from the roadway. Firefighters found a smoldering blaze that had already blackened an estimated 200’ x 75’ swath of vegetation. Crews used one of the district’s tender trucks to supply the water that snuffed the flames, and dug into the burned areas to expose and extinguish any hidden hot spots. The property owner came to the scene and told crews that there hadn’t been any burning on the property since last Thursday. A controlled outdoor fire is required to have a fire break around the burn pile, and officials believe that an inadequate break and incomplete extinguishment combined with recent scorching-hot temperatures to reignite and spread the fire from the pile. Crews will be checking the site throughout the day to ensure that it remains out.
Officials note that this morning’s incident clearly illustrates the speed at which vegetation becomes dangerously dry in hot weather, and urge caution with all ignition sources.
June 18, 2017
KAYAKERS RESCUED FROM AGATE PASS
(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) – When observers here saw that a kayaking couple was in trouble and called 9-1-1 on Sunday evening, firefighters swung into action to help. However, as is often the case on the vast waters of Puget Sound, it was bystanders who made a difference for the pair.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to the shores of Agate Pass near Old Man House Park just after 7 p.m. While firefighters from the district’s Kingston station were getting NKF&R’s fire-rescue boat underway from its berth at the Port of Kingston Marina, a crew from NKF&R’s Suquamish station went directly to the park. There, they spotted the female kayaker clinging to a day-marker about 100’ into the channel while the male, towing the woman’s boat, was reportedly growing tired as he paddled against strong current in an unsuccessful effort to reach her. Bystanders along the Suquamish side of the pass were offering up their small boats to assist firefighters when a man on the Bainbridge Island shore brought his ski boat across, deftly rescuing the couple and their kayaks. He delivered them to the park, and returned to Bainbridge before crews could get his name. Once the pair was safely ashore, NKF&R’s rescue boat stood down.
The couple told crews that the woman had lost her paddle and, in an effort to keep from being swept away by the current, grabbed onto the day-marker’s piling. There, she got separated from her boat. She was wearing a life-jacket. Both the man and the woman denied any injuries and declined medical treatment.
Firefighters remarked upon the neighbors’ enthusiastic willingness to pitch in and pointed to the skillful help provided by the Bainbridge boater. “When called to water rescues, our crews respond our boat as quickly as possible but pleasure craft in the immediate area can naturally get to the incident faster,” notes NKF&R Spokeswoman Michele Laboda,”That’s what happened today, and we’re grateful for the assist.”
May 26, 2017
STATEMENT TO THE PUBLIC
To the people we serve:
On May 18, a King County Superior Court jury rendered a $9.5 million verdict against North Kitsap Fire & Rescue and in favor of the widow and family of Jason Foster. Mr. Foster was a 48 year-old Kingston resident who was involved in a fatality accident on July 4, 2014 with one of our fire engines. Several legal errors by the court contributed to the unusually-large verdict. Despite our deep compassion for Mr. Foster’s family and our recognition of their profound loss, we will be appealing this verdict to ensure a fair process and to protect our valuable relationship with you, the people we serve.
It’s important to note that the investigation of the crash did not result in the filing of any criminal charges. Furthermore, this tragic accident was unprecedented in our history. For decades, our well-trained professionals — both paid and volunteer — have been responding to calls and driving safely every day, without any significant incident.
Despite these facts, the Seattle jury awarded $9.5 million to Mr. Foster’s widow, seven adult children and one minor child. Our business is saving lives and property; we are not experts in the law. However, we strongly believe that the courts are a place where all parties deserve a fair opportunity to present their case, and to seek a just and fair verdict. Our attorneys have carefully reviewed the case and have concluded that the court’s errors on key rulings denied this opportunity to us and our firefighters. Though these issues and the size of the award are factors in the decision to appeal, we are especially concerned about the verdict’s potentially-damaging effects on your trust in us.
To serve you, we must have your trust. We’ve worked hard to earn it and, every day, we work to maintain it. We want you to be confident that, should the worst occur, you can count on our well-trained personnel to respond quickly, safely and compassionately. We want you to know that we’re open and honest with you, and that we’re careful stewards of the resources you provide to us.
The Fosters have suffered an immeasurable loss. We continue to do our jobs as we always have, but the crash and its awful consequences are never far from our minds. As many in our community already know, we try to do what we can to help grieving families in the wake of their losses. Due to pending litigation, we were prevented from extending our usual compassionate support to the Foster family. We make it our practice to be as transparent and communicative as possible. However, we have been constrained from publicly discussing the accident and from responding to stories in social and traditional media as completely as we would like. We will have to continue to operate under those constraints until the litigation has finally ended.
If you have a question or concern, please let me know directly. Call me at (360)297-3619. Send a message to me at email@example.com. Come to our Board of Fire Commissioners meetings on the second and fourth Mondays at 7:15 p.m. at our headquarters station near Kingston. We will do our best to answer your questions and respond to your concerns, to the full extent we are able to, under the present circumstances.
We are grateful for your support in the past, and thank you for your continued trust now and into the future.
April 10, 2017
ELECTRICAL FIRE DESTROYS TRAILER, DISPLACES ONE
(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) – An electrical problem sparked a fire in a travel trailer that displaced a man and destroyed most of his possessions here on Sunday evening. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
Crews from North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department were called to the corner of Geneva Street and Urban Avenue just after 7 p.m., following a neighbor’s 9-1-1 call to reoprt a possible house fire. As units made their way to the scene, firefighters received updated information indicating that a trailer (and not a house) was burning. Bystanders reported a series of explosions that were later determined to have been the result of fireworks that had been stored in the trailer. The first firefighters arrived on scene within 5 minutes of dispatch, and found the 18’ trailer fully-involved in flames. Crews were able to quickly squelch the fire, but not before the metal structure and its contents suffered severe damage. The blaze was contained to the trailer, and did not spread to nearby structures.
The occupant had been using an extension cord, connected to the nearby home, to provide power to the trailer. He told officials that the breaker serving the extension cord’s circuit had tripped earlier in the afternoon, shortly before he and his dog left for Silverdale, adding that it wasn’t unusual for it to trip when overloaded.
An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the incident. After talking with witnesses and examining the evidence at the scene, she determined that the fire was accidental and likely started in the center left side of the trailer near the spot where the extension cord was connected.
Fires sparked by extension cords are not uncommon. The Electrical Safety Foundation International (www.esfi.org) reports that, annually, about 3,300 residential fires start this way. To avoid fires, officials recommend that extension cords be used to power just one portable appliance at a time, and for temporary purposes only. All electrical cords should be protected from mechanical damage that may occur when they’re run across traffic areas or through windows and doors. Overinsulation can also become a fire hazard when cords are run underneath carpets or other materials.
The trailer was not insured. Friends, family and the American Red Cross are assisting the man.
February 9, 2017
FIREFIGHTERS SAVE BUILDING FROM INTENTIONALLY-SET FIRE
Twenty escape flames due to fast efforts of building owners, a ferry worker and sheriff’s deputies
(KINGSTON, Wash.) – Fire crews saved most of a small local motel here early this morning, but the fire that the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office has called an arson has left one person injured, several others displaced and a business closed until further notice. Officials say that the incident could have been far worse if it hadn’t been for the heroic efforts of those on scene prior to firefighters’ arrival.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were initially called to the Blue Water Motel on State Route 104 at 3:42 a.m. Thursday for a brush fire behind the business.. While units were en route to the incident, additional callers to Kitsap 9-1-1 reported that one of the motel’s two buildings was aflame, and dispatchers upgraded the incident to a commercial structure fire. Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) deputies arrived on the scene within mere minutes of fire unit’s dispatch, and confirmed heavy fire from the 6-unit, 2-1/2 story motel annex. The incident commander requested the additional personnel and equipment of a second-alarm fire, drawing more than thirty firefighters from across Kitsap County — NKF&R, Poulsbo Fire Department, Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Puget Sound Federal Fire Department and Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue.
The building’s owners, a Washington State Ferries employee who stopped to assist while on his way to work and KCSO deputies circled the motel’s buildings, pounding on doors to rouse occupants and get them out. The first-arriving crew was on scene in just over seven minutes following their dispatch, and they found the structures evacuated. Flames were coming from an upper story window as well as from the ends of that building’s upper story covered walkway. Firefighters were able to tie into an adjacent fire hydrant and, armed with plentiful water supplies, directed 1000 gallons-per-minute into the fire window. Within ten minutes of their arrival, the fire had been knocked down. In another ten minutes, the fire was under
control. While building owners were fairly certain that all occupants were safely out, crews conducted multiple searches to verify that no one remained inside. Others worked to track down any hidden hot spots. Firefighters remained on scene throughout the day to assist fire investigators as they worked. State Route 104 was closed during the height of operations for approximately two hours, disrupting travel to the ferry terminal.
Investigators from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office, after collecting statements from witnesses and examining the physical evidence at the scene, have confirmed earlier reports that the fire was intentionally-set in a room of the annex’s upper story. For additional information about the suspect and his arrest, contact the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office. More information about the fire investigation is available through Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam.
An adult male, staying in the room adjacent to the room where the fire was set, told officials that he’d been awakened by the smell of smoke and was forced to run past the open door of the burning room to make his escape. Friends drove the man to a local hospital where he said he was treated for smoke inhalation and released. Although the buildings’ units were equipped with single-station smoke alarms, no building-wide fire alarm or sprinkler system was required a motel of the Blue Water’s small size.
Businesses and individuals in this small, tight-knit town came out to help motel evacuees and firefighters. The local grocery store, Kingston Food Market, and the Grub Hut Restaurant both opened early to provide warm shelter while a local coffee stand, the Cup and Muffin, delivered hot beverages to the crews.
Although the majority of fire damage was limited to the upper story of the motel annex building, heat and water damage also impacted the lower story. That building has been condemned by the fire marshal. Flames also affected the exterior of the motel’s main building – situated less than ten feet away. Out of concern that the 15-unit, 2-story structure’s electrical wiring may have been damaged, officials aren’t allowing occupants to stay there so the motel is temporarily closed. Four units – including the owners adjacent apartment on site, and three guest units – were serving as permanent residences. The building is insured and the owners are staying with family. The other displaced families are receiving assistance from the American Red Cross.
January 7, 2017
UPDATE: The investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office, based on evidence at the scene, has confirmed that the fire was likely sparked by the pan of grease left on the stove.
MAN DISPLACED BY DESTRUCTIVE SATURDAY AFTERNOON FIRE
Delayed 9-1-1 call may have contributed to the extent of damage
(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) – No one was injured but an adult male was displaced when a fire caused substantial damage to his home here on Saturday
afternoon. A delay in calling 9-1-1, while the man attempted to fight the flames, likely contributed to extent of the fire’s destruction and officials say the man is fortunate to have escaped injury. Although the fire’s precise cause remains under investigation, the homeowner told firefighters that, before heading out to the store, he had forgotten to turn off the kitchen stove where he’d been heating a pan of grease. The man is not insured, but he is receiving assistance through volunteers with the American Red Cross and staying with family members.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R), Poulsbo Fire Department and Bainbridge Island Fire Department crews were dispatched to the Geneva Street address at 1:17 p.m. The first crew — responding from NKF&R’s Suquamish station, just two blocks away – got to the scene within three minutes and found heavy smoke coming from the less than 1,000 SF cottage. Firefighters were able to knock down the main fire quickly, but complete extinguishment of all hot-spots was more complicated and time-consuming as they dug into multiple layers of materials and a thick covering of moss to access hidden fire within the home’s attic spaces. Flames and heat have affected about half of the home while smoke damage has impacted all of the interior spaces.
The man told officials that he’d forgotten that he’d been heating a pan of grease before heading out to the store. Upon his return from that quick trip, he discovered thick black smoke coming from the house. Despite the choking fumes, the man entered the house multiple times with buckets of water in an unsuccessful effort to squelch the flames. When it became apparent that the fire was only getting bigger, the man said he finally retreated and called 9-1-1. Despite his apparent exposure to smoke, the man denied any ill effects.
Geneva Street was closed to traffic for several hours between Augusta Avenue and 1st Avenue while crews worked.
An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene. As of this writing, he has not completed his investigation into the fire’s official cause and origin.
Though they urge untrained civilians not risk themselves and others with attempts to fight anything but the smallest of fires, officials say that it’s not uncommon as illustrated by today’s incident. They want to remind the public about the importance of calling 9-1-1 to minimize damage and injury. “Call first and fast to get well-trained and equipped crews to the scene as quickly as possible,“ says NKF&R Spokeswoman Michele Laboda.
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