2021 Press Releases

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November 30, 2021

Man displaced when apparent electrical problem sparks destructive trailer fire

(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) — A damaged cord is thought to have sparked a destructive travel trailer fire here, displacing one adult and consuming most of his possessions. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians in the Tuesday afternoon blaze.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were initially dispatched to an unknown type of fire near the corner of Brockton Avenue and Pine Street at 12:48 p.m. Multiple reports of heavy black smoke caused 911 dispatchers to elevate the incident to a residential structure fire, bringing additional resources from Poulsbo Fire Department. A Suquamish police officer was first on scene and reported the 18-foot trailer as fully-involved in flames. Once they arrived, firefighters were able to get water on the fire quickly to prevent the flames from spreading to other nearby structures but the trailer is a total loss. Officials say that the construction of trailers and recreational vehicles leads them to burn fast and hot, nearly always resulting in complete destruction when fire strikes.

The trailer’s occupant, an adult male, told officials that he was on a walk to a nearby store when the fire broke out. The trailer and its contents were not insured. NKF&R firefighters secured a motel room as temporary lodging for the man, and Poulsbo Fire Department’s CARES (Community Assistance Referral and Education Service) Team will be working with him to find longer-term solutions.

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the incident. Based on witness statements and evidence at the scene, he believes that the fire likely started when a damaged and energized appliance or electronics cord generated enough heat to ignite nearby combustibles. Officials urge care with cords:

  • Regularly check all cords for damage and replace when necessary.
  • Make sure all cords are protected from mechanical damage (not running through doors, windows or across floors); avoid using cords to pull plugs from outlets which can cause hidden damage to contacts inside the plug and/or the outlet.

Pine Street between Brockton and Urban Avenues was blocked for nearly two hours while crews worked.

November 16, 2021

Lieutenant Christopher James Smith
February 28, 1970 – November 8, 2021


Christopher James Smith died unexpectedly at his Silverdale, Washington home on November 8, 2021. He was born on February 28, 1970 in Edmonds, Washington and welcomed into the loving home of his adoptive parents, Albert David Smith and Christy Maxine (Hitchcock) Smith.

Chris was raised in Kingston, Washington. There, he began his 34-year fire service career at age 16 as a volunteer with the district that became North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R), Kitsap County Fire District #10. A natural helper, Chris was immediately drawn to the profession. He attended the Washington State Fire Training Academy near North Bend and, in 1989, was accepted into paramedic training through Oregon Health Sciences University. After completing the program, he honed his skills for several years while working for private ambulance companies as well as for fire departments in southwestern Washington. But Chris longed to serve in his hometown. In 1994, his dream became a reality when he was hired as a firefighter/paramedic with NKF&R. He earned promotion to lieutenant in 2001. Chris actively furthered his skills through training and education, completing an Associate Degree in Fire Command Administration at Pierce College. He also served on the regional technical rescue team. At NKF&R, he was especially well regarded for his fireground skills and his project work; among his many contributions, he was instrumental in developing NKF&R’s first marine response program. Chris dedicated two-thirds of his life to the fire service, delivering attentive and compassionate care to those who needed his help.

Chris loved traveling, woodworking and anything to do with the water; he crewed on several sailboat races, including in contests on the open ocean. He had just purchased his dream sailboat and was preparing to retire in just 18 months.

He is survived by his sister, BonnieSue Smith of Poulsbo; his wife, Svitlana (Levchenko) of the family home; and his son, Cayman, who is currently serving in the U.S. Army. He was predeceased by both of his parents.

At the request of Chris’s family, NKF&R and the Kitsap County Firefighters’ Benevolent Fund are hosting an informal celebration of life in his honor on Wednesday, November 17 at 3 p.m. in the Village Green Community Center (26159 Dulay Road NE in Kingston, Washington). Fire service personnel are encouraged to wear Class A uniforms, and the public is welcome to attend. Masks are required at the community center.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Kitsap Firefighters Benevolent Fund, a registered non-profit, at P.O. Box 1604 in Silverdale, Washington 98383.

A maple tree damaged two properties when it fell in Indianola on Monday morning.

October 27, 2021

Falling trees in NK cause significant damage but no injuries

(NORTH KITSAP, Wash.) — The region’s first series of fall storms have taken a toll as falling trees caused substantial damage in two separate North Kitsap incidents this week. Three structures, an RV and a car were affected but no one suffered serious injury in either event.

A large tree split a Suquamish mobile home when the cottonwood fell on Tuesday evening. A car was also damaged in the incident.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were dispatched to an Indianola home at 11 a.m. on Monday after a large maple tree came down to destroy one property’s shed where, moments earlier, the structure had been occupied by an author who uses the space as a writing studio. The same tree caused significant damage to the adjacent property’s two-story home. Portions of that structure’s second-floor ceilings were punctured by branches as the weight of the tree crushed a dormer and section of the roof.  A fence and a recreational vehicle also sustained damage in the event.  Firefighters made sure utilities were shut off and secured the home. The home’s owner and sole occupant wasn’t injured; the house is insured.

NKF&R crews were called to a Suquamish residence just after 5 p.m. on Tuesday after a mobile home’s owner and sole occupant called 911 to report she was trapped when a large tree — thought to be a cottonwood — toppled onto her house and car.  Firefighters quickly freed her from the wreckage and, although she was examined by paramedics at the scene, she declined treatment or transport.  She told officials that she’d heard a crack and was moving to another part of the structure as the tree sliced through the mobile home, destroying it.  The home is not insured; the woman is being assisted by the Suquamish Tribe as well as by the American Red Cross.

NKF&R Firefighter Clif McKenzie applies water to remaining hot spots inside a 30′ travel trailer that burned Tuesday morning near Kingston.

October 5, 2021

Couple displaced when trailer burns

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — The woman sleeping inside only had moments to escape but no one was injured when a couple’s 30′ travel-trailer home and most of their possessions burned here Tuesday morning.

Deputy Fire Marshal Greg Gentile examines the scene and photographs key elements after fire gutted a travel trailer near Kingston on Tuesday morning.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to the trailer park off of Ritter Lane near its intersection with SR 104 at 7:58 a.m. on Tuesday.  Although the first unit arrived on scene in less than four minutes after dispatch and crews had water on the fire within five minutes, the intense heat that is typical of recreational vehicle fires had already done serious damage.  The trailer and its contents are likely a total loss.

The woman told firefighters that her husband had left for work at about 7 a.m. She was later awakened by the sound of glass breaking.  She opened the sliding door between the small bedroom and the trailer’s living room/kitchen area to find flames and intense heat.  She grabbed her phone, and fled through the nearby exterior door before calling 9-1-1 to report the fire. Although the couple said that there was a smoke alarm in the trailer, no one reported hearing it activate. “Without a smoke alarm sounding an early warning,” says NKF&R Spokeswoman Michele Laboda, “It’s fortunate that the woman awakened in time to escape the fire.”  She adds that the chances of surviving a home fire are doubled by the presence of working smoke alarms.

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene. He believes that the fire was accidental and started in the area of the trailer’s propane-fired heater.
The trailer was not insured. The American Red Cross is assisting the couple.

July 19, 2021

Spent fireworks spark destructive fire
Storage container, contents destroyed

(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) — Spent fireworks apparently ignited a fire in a debris pile that spread to destroy a large storage container and the fireworks inside, cause damage to an adjacent travel trailer and spark a brush fire across Suquamish Way at a fireworks stand here early last Wednesday morning. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue crews were called to the incident just after midnight when the stand’s caretaker awoke to find the fire and, after a brief attempt to extinguish it himself, called 911.  The first unit arrived on scene from the district’s Suquamish fire station in just over 8 minutes and found the 8′ x 20′ storage container well-involved in fire with fireworks exploding from within. A 10′ x 10′ brush fire was burning across the street. Firefighters quickly contained that blaze before it could spread further and, due to the volatile contents of the storage container, kept their distance while applying water to protect the travel trailer.  Additional crews were brought in from Bainbridge Island Fire Department and Poulsbo Fire Department. Without hydrants readily accessible, tender trucks provided water supply. A piercing nozzle (a device that’s designed to punch through barriers such as boat hulls, car hoods or metal walls — while delivering water) gave firefighters a safer means to snuff the blaze inside the container. Despite intense heat and detonating fireworks, firefighters were able to save the majority of the trailer.

The caretaker told crews that there had been a group setting off fireworks in the parking lot earlier in the evening, and he’d asked them to clean up the debris before leaving.  An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene and, based on physical evidence and witness statements, believes the fire was caused by spent fireworks that were likely thrown away (into a pile of discarded packaging) before they’d cooled.

Due to high fire danger, a countywide burn ban was imposed on July 10. Officials are urging the public to limit the use of all ignition sources, including fireworks.

June 29, 2021

Multiple Bystanders Team Up for Successful Water Rescue off of Point No Point

(HANSVILLE, Wash.) — Multiple bystanders came together to make a successful rescue in an incident that started when a 10 year-old boy was swept away by currents off of Point No Point Park here on Saturday afternoon.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to the popular beach at 1:36 p.m. after a caller transferred to Kitsap 911 reported an adult man and a boy in distress about 30′ – 50′ off of the point.  Land-based crews responded to the Port of Kingston Marina to get NKF&R’s fire-rescue boat, Marine 81, underway in just over 8 minutes. Other crews responded directly to the park. The U.S. Coast Guard was also notified. While firefighters were still en route, they received updated information that all parties were safely ashore. Once this was confirmed by responders, the Coast Guard and the district’s fire-rescue boat returned to their stations.  The boy and the man were examined by medical personnel. The boy’s mother took him home where she planned to monitor him; the man was taken by paramedic unit to St. Michael Medical Center where he was treated and released.

The adult man, a 26 year-old from Seabeck, told rescuers that he’d been at the beach with his two children when he heard the boy calling for help.  The man ran into the water and swam out to the boy, carrying him on his back for the swim back to shore. An old injury acted up to prevent him from continuing the swim and, he said, he yelled for help as he started to sink.  A woman swam out with a boogie board, providing the boy and the man with vital flotation. The pair kicked as hard as they could but their safe return wasn’t certain until a group of bystanders on the beach deployed a large log into the water that the man and the boy could grab.  Once ashore, the man was assisted by two women who identified themselves as nurses.  The nurses cared for the man’s children, following the ambulance to the hospital in the man’s car.

Life jackets, an important defense against drowning — especially in Puget Sound where the frigid water temperatures can rapidly impair the ability to swim effectively, are available at life jacket loaner kiosks across Kitsap County.  Officials also recommend becoming familiar with a body of water’s potential hazards before swimming there.  Visitors and residents alike are often surprised by the strength of currents around Point No Point, which has led to other water rescue calls there in summers past.

While crediting the bystanders with Saturday’s successful rescue, officials also urge caution. Marine 81 crews have rescued three individuals in two separate incidents in Puget Sound in just the past year.  The team has been called to several more events during that time frame in which passing boaters or shoreside civilians made the rescues. Says NKF&R Spokeswoman Michele Laboda, “The waters surrounding our fire district are vast and, sometimes, others can get there much faster than we can. So, we’re grateful when bystanders step up to help.” Laboda adds, “But it’s also important that helpers do so safely.”

June 29, 2021

Celebrate Safely, Kitsap!
Skyrocketing fire danger adds to fire officials’ concerns about consumer fireworks use

(KITSAP COUNTY, Wash.) – Even as temperatures cool slightly after last weekend’s record-setting heat, the wildfire risk continues to climb. The members of the Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association (KCFCA) are anticipating an exceptionally busy holiday weekend and hoping to reduce the impacts by urging the public to forego private fireworks.  In another effort to limit ignition sources, the Kitsap County Fire Marshal already implemented a Phase I Fire Danger Burn Ban, effective June 26.

First responders see the results first-hand when fireworks go awry. Consumer fireworks cause nearly 20,000 fires annually in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s latest annual report on fireworks says that fireworks caused over 9,000 emergency room visits in 2018. In 2020, fireworks were the cause of 360 fires and 237 injuries in Washington state. This year, fire officials say that the fire risks are far greater than usual with continued warm and dry weather forecast through the holiday weekend.  While escaped controlled fires are the leading cause of wildland fires year-round, fireworks are to blame for the majority of these incidents around the Fourth of July.

Fireworks rules vary between cities and unincorporated areas as well as on local tribes’ reservations. To verify what rules apply, see the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s website. The City of Bainbridge Island has permanently banned all consumer fireworks, and other jurisdictions may impose emergency bans if conditions continue to worsen.

Always call 911 when there’s an immediate threat to life or property, from fireworks or otherwise. However, in an effort to keep Kitsap 911 phone lines open for true emergencies, persons concerned about fireworks use should make a report on the fireworks page of Kitsap 911’s website.

KCFCA has traditionally encouraged the public to “leave fireworks to the professionals” and attend public displays.  However, only one public display (in Kingston) is scheduled for Kitsap during this year’s holiday weekend.  NFPA has a list of alternatives to fireworks that include glow sticks, silly string and noisemakers; an internet search reveals scores of additional fun ideas.

“Our nation’s independence is an occasion well worth celebrating,” says Poulsbo Fire Department Chief Jim Gillard. “We want to encourage the public to celebrate with their friends, families and neighbors in a safe manner so that everyone can enjoy the Fourth of July.”  Staying home if sick, refraining from drinking and driving, and limiting the use of consumer fireworks are simple steps with far-reaching effects. “The right choices will help keep us all safe,” notes Gillard.

June 24, 2021

Phase 1 Burn Ban starts Saturday, June 26

(Port Orchard, WA) – ​ Due to rising fire danger, the Kitsap County Fire Marshal is imposing a ban on most outdoor burning starting at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, June 26.

Under the Phase I Fire Danger Burn Ban, all outdoor burning permits are suspended until further notice and all burning is prohibited except for recreational or cooking fires in approved devices and locations. For more detail about what’s approved and what’s not under the ban, see Outdoor Burning Frequently Asked Questions.

Local fire districts have seen recent increases in wildland fire responses, and an early start to the wildland season throughout the west has already put pressure on available regional resources. Unusually hot weather is forecast for the coming weekend. Higher than normal temperatures are likely to continue and lower than normal amounts of rain are predicted over the next two weeks, worsening fire risk in a landscape that’s already dry.  Escaped outdoor fires are the leading cause of wildland fires, sparking nearly 85% of all vegetation blazes.

“We’re asking the public to be aware of the sharp increase in fire danger and work with us to prevent dangerous wildland fires from outdoor burning as well as other causes,” says Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam. He urges caution with all potential ignition sources.

A more stringent Phase 2 Fire Danger Burn Ban may be imposed if conditions continue to deteriorate. It will not be lifted until there is a marked improvement in wildfire risk across the region as well as significant and sustained rainfall.

This ban and others that are imposed due to fire danger are not the same as the air quality burn bans implemented by the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency.

For additional information, contact the Fire Marshal’s Office  at 360.337.5777 or your local fire department.

June 5, 2021

Though crews were on scene in just eight minutes after dispatch, this two-story Kingston home was fully-involved in fire upon firefighters’ arrival.

Dog Alerts Occupants as Fire Destroys Home, Displacing Five

(KINGSTON, Wash.) —  A 13 month-old mixed breed dog named Lucy is being hailed as a hero after sounding the alarm to occupants sleeping on the bottom floor of a Rash Road house as fire tore through its upper story here early Saturday morning. All escaped safely though a cat is missing.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department crews were called to the two-story, 2,000 SF home just after 4:20 a.m. after a neighbor called 9-1-1 to report flames coming from the structure. The first units arrived on scene about 8 minutes after dispatch, and reported the home to be fully involved in fire. Because there are no fire hydrants in the immediate area, crews relied on tender trucks to bring in water for the firefight. The second floor was destroyed by fire while the bottom floor with its four bedrooms sustained significant smoke and water damage. The occupant of the second floor’s only bedroom was not home at the time of the fire.

Lucy, the 13 month-old mixed breed dog whose persistent barking resulted in the successful evacuation of all five occupants from a burning home in Kingston early this morning, loves to play with a yoga ball when she’s not busy being a hero.

None of the occupants or responding firefighters reported hearing smoke alarms sounding during the fire. One of the residents told officials that she was awakened by Lucy’s barking and, upon investigating, found heavy fire in the kitchen on the upper floor. She woke the home’s other occupants who, along with the dog, evacuated.  NKF&R Spokesperson Michele Laboda notes that according to the National Fire Protection Association, nearly three-fifths of all fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms. “Without Lucy’s intelligence and persistence, this morning’s outcome could have been far more tragic,” she adds. Because working smoke alarms are so important, NKF&R firefighters install them upon request to ensure that no home is without this vital protection.

Deputy Fire Marshal Kristi Wlodarchak photographs debris in the area of origin as she investigates the cause of a fire that displaced five and severely damaged a Kingston home early Saturday morning.

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office was on the scene.  Physical evidence and witness statements point to the home’s kitchen as the likely area of origin, and an electrical problem involving one of several appliances as the probable cause.The home is not inhabitable.  Though the structure was insured by the homeowner, none of the occupants had renter’s insurance.  The American Red Cross is providing assistance. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians, though one of the household’s two cats has not been found.  Neighbors are asked to keep an eye out for an orange-colored male cat.

June 1, 2021

NKF&R Fire-Rescue Boat and Crew Rescue Two from Puget Sound

As viewed from Marine 81’s in-cabin monitor, NKF&R firefighters secure a tow-line to a vessel that capsized Sunday evening in the waters northwest of Shilshole Marina. The catamaran’s two occupants had already been pulled from the water and were safely aboard the fire-rescue boat.

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — Two adult men were rescued, uninjured but cold, by North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews after the men’s sailing craft capsized, dumping them into Puget Sound about three miles northwest of Shilshole Marina last evening.

NKF&R crews were dispatched along with several other agencies just after 7:47 p.m. Monday, following the men’s 911 call. The district’s fire-rescue vessel, Marine 81, is moored at Port of Kingston Marina and cross-staffed by firefighters who respond from the South Kingston Road and Miller Bay Road fire stations when the boat is needed. Today, Marine 81 was underway in less than 15 minutes and the crew was pulling the men from the water within 30 minutes of dispatch. Both were wearing life-jackets.

After settling the men into Marine 81’s warm cabin and determining that immediate medical attention wasn’t necessary, the crew turned their attention to recovering the overturned boat. With the help of Seattle Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard crews, the approximately 20′ catamaran was righted and Marine 81 towed the vessel back to Kingston.

Puget Sound’s water temperature hovers between 45 – 55 F. In as little as 15 minutes, the effects of the cold water begin to impact the ability to effectively swim or self-rescue. Life jackets help ensure that immersion victims remain at the water’s surface and more visible to rescuers.

The pair told firefighters that they’d launched from a private residence on Miller Bay, which is situated between Suquamish and Indianola on the Kitsap Peninsula, and were enjoying a sail when a too-tight turn caused the boat to flip.

Learn more about NKF&R and its fire-rescue boat.

February 15, 2021

Six Members Promote

Last month, we honored the careers of four senior members who recently retired.  This month, we’d like to introduce you to six members who’ve recently been promoted to fill the resulting vacancies and, next month, we’ll tell you about the three new hires that have brought us back to a total of 39 firefighters across the three shifts.  

Ardyl Abrigo graduated from Lakewood’s Clover Park High School. From the moment he joined the district’s volunteer firefighter training program in 1998, he has aggressively pursued his fire service education while moving up the ranks from volunteer to career firefighter in 2000 through this year’s appointment to Assistant Chief for Support Services The division handles purchasing and logistics as well as apparatus and facilities maintenance. Abrigo has his Bachelor of Science in Fire Service Administration from Eastern Oregon University.  Most recently, he completed the Executive Leadership Academy through the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business. Abrigo says that it’s always been important to him to pass along his knowledge and help train new firefighters; he looks forward to continuing to influence the next generation of fire service leadersHe lives in Gig Harbor with his wife, Erin, and their two teenaged children. When he’s not working or studying, Abrigo enjoys the outdoors and supporting his family in their activities. 

Alex Hickey has been promoted to Division Chief for Training and Safety, succeeding Abrigo in that role.  He has always known he’d become a firefighter; six of his family members have also been involved in emergency services.  He was raised in Kingston and, immediately following his graduation from North Kitsap High School, he signed up for the district’s volunteer firefighter training program.  Hickey was hired in 2009promoted to lieutenant in 2015 and has been very active in several fire service training groups. He’s also an established leader in wildland firefighting, often heading up teams of as many as twenty on large incidents. Hickey has a true passion for training, drawing lessons from his experience on hockey teams where he first learned the value of planning and preparation to deliver the best results.  He points to the direct connection between high quality drills and successful performance; good training, Hickey says, is the keystone to providing the best possible service to the community. He lives in Poulsbo with his wife, Kate, and their beagle, Annie.  The pair often spends their free time together in the outdoors or on the water. 

Theron Rahier has been promoted to lieutenant and Medical Services Officer, filling the vacancy created by the retirement of former MSO Steve Engle.  He grew up in Hansville and was a member of Kingston High School’s first graduating class.  After a brief stint in construction, Rahier joined the district’s volunteer firefighter training program in 2010.  The former high school baseball and football playewas drawn to the fire service’s team approach.  In 2014, he earned a spot in the prestigious Seattle/King County Paramedic Training Program as well as a job with the district upon his successful completion of the nearly year-long course. He has been one of the district’s six firefighter/paramedics on shift for nearly six years. In his new role, he’ll have the opportunity to apply his zeal for teaching and leadership to helping our personnel to become even stronger emergency medical providers. Rahier lives in Poulsbo with his wife, Megan, along with their two kids, two dogs and two horses. Spending time with family and in the outdoors are Rahier’s favorite off-duty activities. 

Ryan Buchanan is the district’s newest battalion chieftaking over leadership of B-Shift from the recently-retired Ken LeMay. Buchanan was also raised in Hansville, and graduated from North Kitsap High School in 2001 before joining the district’s volunteer firefighter training program.  He was hired as a career firefighter in 2004, and spent the next ten years focused on learning all he could about the job and refining his skillsFinding that he really enjoyed training others, he successfully tested for lieutenant in 2014 and was promoted.  Buchanan says he’s been inspired by several leaders in the fire service and beyond — especially his junior and senior high school sports coaches.  He is also pursuing a Bachelor of Applied Science in Fire Service Leadership and Management at Pierce College. He lives in Gig Harbor with his wife, Jenny, and their two girls. Buchanan has embraced his family’s love of fishing, citing it as his favorite off-duty pastime.  

Mike Cunningham is one of two lieutenants promoted to fill the vacancies created when Hickey and Buchanan moved into their new roles. Prior to joining the fire service, the Bainbridge High School grad worked in a variety of fields that paid the bills but left him lacking a sense of purpose. Cunningham was inspired to join an emergency medical technician (EMT) training program after happening upon several medical incidents where he was willing to help but lacked the skills to do so It was through an assignment in the EMT program that he found the district’s volunteer firefighter training program and joined in 2003.  He knew right away that he’d found the right path, and was hired in 2004. While it might have been easier to remain in the firefighter role for the rest of his career, Cunningham feels a sense of duty to make the most of the district’s investment in him by taking on the company officer role.  From there, he can most effectively share his considerable experience from inside and outside of the fire service.  Cunningham lives in Bellingham with his wife, Andrea, and their two dogs, Sam and Murphy.  They spend as much time as possible on their 29’ fishing boat. 

Heath Clark is the other of two lieutenants promoted recently. Though his family moved around quite a bit in his childhood, he considers Kitsap County his home. Before graduating from South Kitsap High School, he excelled as a sprinter and competed on the state level in track and field. For nearly twenty years, Clark had a successful career in the construction field — until he saw an ad for the district’s volunteer firefighter training program in 2005, and decided to try it out. He was hired in 2008.  As a senior firefighter, he has been using his strong work ethic and keen mechanical aptitude to mentor others and he’s looking forward to applying these skills in his new leadership role. He and Judy, his wife of 29 years, live in Port Orchard. They have two adult sons and now serve as foster parents. Clark focuses most of his free time on his family but also loves playing softball, snowboarding and muscle cars. 

February 2, 2021

Ventilators protect first responders and healthcare workers from COVID while providing enhanced level of care for patients

New portable ventilators, funded through KCDEM with CARES Act dollars, will better protect the county’s first responders from COVID-19 and provide a higher level of care to critically-ill patients.

(KITSAP COUNTY, Wash.) — The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act has brought needed support to Kitsap County for a wide range of pandemic response efforts.  While local vaccination clinics and community-based testing sites are among the most visible CARES-funded initiatives, a project involving public emergency medical services (EMS) providers is making a difference behind the scenes for responders and the public alike, during the pandemic and beyond.

In Kitsap County, EMS is provided by fire agencies.  Led by South Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s Chief Jeff Faucett, the six local departments (Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Bremerton Fire Department, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Poulsbo Fire Department and South worked through Kitsap County Department of Emergency Management (KCDEM) and Kitsap Public Health District to secure CARES Act reimbursement for the $364,000 purchase of 20 state-of-the-art portable ventilators that support respiration in the most seriously-ill patients. The devices, manufactured by Zoll Medical, have been in service since late last fall. Outfitted with filters that trap pathogens like the coronavirus, the ventilators protect EMS personnel and healthcare providers during treatment and transport of COVID-19 patients. Says Faucett, “It’s been a huge relief to get this equipment into our paramedic units to protect the county’s first responders.”

A paramedic instructs crews from Kitsap County’s EMS providers in the use of a new portable ventilator, funded through KCDEM with CARES Act dollars.

The leading-edge technology also offers a higher level of care, improving outcomes for patients now and in the future by automatically delivering more consistent and precise breaths than can be provided manually to victims of cardiac arrest, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, allergic reactions or other respiratory emergencies. KCDEM Director Elizabeth Klute said, “The pandemic has given us the opportunity to work closely with our first responder partners and, through the CARES Act funding, help provide for the safety of both the public and our critical responders.”

Zoll provides training.  This week in Port Orchard, the classes were taught by a Zoll paramedic with an emphasis on honing local emergency medical responders’ skills in airway management and respiratory support using the portable ventilators. The three-hour class included a short lecture followed by hands-on exercises and scenarios. Jim Gillard, Chief at Poulsbo Fire Department and President of the Kitsap County Fire Chiefs Association, notes, “These units are already in the field, enhancing patients’ level of care and responders’ safety. This week’s training has given our crews the opportunity to continue improving their ability to utilize these life-saving devices.”

January 15, 2021

Four NKF&R veteran members start the new year as retirees

Four NKF&R veteran members start the new year as retirees. COVID-19 restrictions are delaying our in-person celebration of their 135+ years of service so, for now, we’ll use this forum to honor their significant contributions to the profession, the fire district and the community.

Cindy Moran joined the department as its administrative assistant in 1993 after a brief stint in a similar role with the then-Kitsap County Fire District #14 in Hansville. She says that her work has been behind the scenes in support of those who provide direct service to the public, but all who’ve worked with Moran know that her contributions have been vital in NKF&R’s successful growth from a mostly-volunteer organization serving a much smaller community to today’s predominantly professional department, serving a much larger population.  Moran oversaw the district’s human resource, financial, insurance, administrative and Board of Fire Commissioners support functions while also serving as part of NKF&R’s leadership team. The district had nine employees and one staffed station when she started; today, NKF&R employs 52 who work out of four staffed stations. When asked how she feels as she looks back at her 28-year career, Moran says, “Grateful to have been able to serve, and proud to see how far the district has come.”

Sean Moran came to the department in January 1990 as one of the earliest members of the district’s volunteer-resident firefighter training program. He was hired as a full-time firefighter/EMT in 1992. He promoted through the ranks from lieutenant in 1995 to shift battalion chief in 2009 and, finally, to assistant chief for training and support services in 2016. NKF&R’s training program is very well-respected in the fire service, and Moran is one of the key reasons why; he has been a mentor to hundreds of aspiring firefighters. He has found it especially rewarding to be in a small department where members have the chance to get involved in all aspects of the field, and to work in a small community where the public is so supportive of the district. Moran says he won’t miss the serious weight of responsibility that comes with the job and after retirement, he looks forward to less worry. The Morans’ last day in the office was December 24. They plan to spend more time with their grandchildren and — when it becomes possible again — travel around this great country.

Ken LeMay knew he wanted to be in the fire service since he first watched the television show Emergency! as a child. As soon as he graduated from high school in 1983, he joined the volunteer-resident program at the then-Kitsap County Fire District #15 (now, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue) and served there until accepted to paramedic school at UCLA.  After a two-year stint as a medic in San Jose, he landed a firefighter/paramedic position at the then-Kitsap County Fire District #10 (now NKF&R) in 1987. LeMay promoted to lieutenant in 1995 and shift battalion chief in 2009; he has also been instrumental in the careers of hundreds of firefighters as they volunteered in the district’s training program. Additionally, LeMay played important roles in the development of the local incident management system, and coordinated the county’s response resources during large incidents and out-of-area deployments. He can’t point to one aspect of the career that’s been his favorite but he says that the camaraderie is at the top, followed closely by the heartfelt appreciation received from those he’s helped. The worst part, he says, are the cumulative effects of seeing others’ worst days.  LeMay left the last shift of his 38-year career on January 3.  He and his wife Nancy, a former Kitsap 911 dispatcher, are already enjoying retirement from their new home in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley.

Steve Engle started on his career path after graduating high school in 1980, studying fire science in community college and taking civil service tests.  A three-year turn in law enforcement convinced Engle that it wasn’t the field for him. He was accepted into paramedic school and, after finishing, continued to hone his emergency medical skills by working for busy private ambulance companies in the Yakima Valley until he was hired at Poulsbo Fire Department as a firefighter/paramedic in 1995. In 2007, he was invited to be among a handful of candidates interviewing to fill NKF&R’s vacant medical officer position and offered the job. In addition to overseeing the district’s emergency medical services (EMS) providers, supplies and equipment, Engle played key roles in the field at the county, region and state levels.  Among his many achievements: he was a part of the effort to change state law and make epinephrine — the drug used to treat severe allergic reactions — more available and affordable for EMS responders, he helped bring new protocols to Kitsap County that have improved outcomes in patients suffering the most dangerous types of heart attacks and he advocated for countywide adoption of high-performance CPR procedures that have increased cardiac arrest patient survival rates from 13 – 33%. Engle doesn’t accept credit for these advances. “All I did was lead the charge. It’s been the crews in the field who make it all happen,” he says. His wife, Yvonne, a nurse at St. Michael Medical Center, plans to retire later this year, and the pair hopes to do some traveling.

Next, we’ll introduce the members who’ve been hired or promoted to fill the vacancies resulting from these moves. Watch this space for details about official celebrations to come.

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