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January 3, 2023

Local Fire Service Veteran Selected as North Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s Next Leader
Assistant Chief Rick LaGrandeur to Take District’s Helm After Dan Smith’s Retirement

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — The Board of Fire Commissioners for North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) has announced their selection of a successor to retiring Fire Chief Dan Smith.  Assistant Chief Rick LaGrandeur, a 29-year veteran who has risen through NKF&R’s ranks from volunteer-resident through his current role as operations chief, will assume the district’s top spot when the current fire chief, Dan Smith, retires on February 4, 2023.

Smith has served as NKF&R’s fire chief since 2008.  He started as a volunteer with Kingston Ambulance in 1981 and joined Kitsap County Fire District #10 (now known as NKF&R) as Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Captain in 1983.  In 1984, he applied his well-known capacity for creativity and innovation to bring paramedic service to the communities that now comprise NKF&R. Like LaGrandeur, Smith also worked his way through the ranks during his 42-year tenure. During that time, he has led the district as it has successfully evolved to meet changing conditions and increasing demand for service. Smith has earned the respect of fire service professionals across the county, state and nation as a champion for cooperation between agencies, and was chosen by his peers to be Washington’s Fire Chief of the Year in 2016. “NKF&R has been fortunate to have had leaders like Chief Smith who’ve worked so hard to build and maintain a culture of service and excellence,” says Gregory. “We’ll miss him, but he has helped ensure that we’re in very good shape to meet the challenges of the next decade.” Known for his long working hours and commitment to the profession, Smith is looking forward to the more relaxed schedule that will come with retirement and looks forward to spending time with his family.

Shortly after Smith announced his retirement in early 2022, a subcommittee of NKF&R’s five-member governing body began designing the process to select the district’s next chief executive officer. The district’s commissioners, elected at large to staggered six-year terms, serve as representatives of the community.  Their responsibilities also include fiscal oversight as well as the selection and supervision of the fire chief.  NKF&R Commissioners Gillian Gregory and John Huntington headed the subcommittee.  At the conclusion of the process which included two internal candidates, the board voted unanimously to appoint LaGrandeur to the position. Gregory observes that he embodies the district’s long-held values of quality, efficiency, fiscal accountability and innovation. She adds, “We look forward to his leadership of this exemplary fire service team.”

LaGrandeur joined NKF&R’s volunteer-resident training program following his graduation from North Kitsap High School and was subsequently hired as a paid firefighter in 1994. He promoted to lieutenant in 2000, shift battalion chief in 2008 and served for eight years as a representative for the NKF&R bargaining units of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 2819. He became the district’s second-in-command as Assistant Chief for Operations in 2015.  He holds an Associate’s Degree in Fire Command Administration from Olympic College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Fire Service Administration from Eastern Oregon University and will complete the National Fire Academy’s Executive Fire Officer Program in 2023. “What Chief Smith has done for our fire district is remarkable,” notes LaGrandeur, adding that Smith leaves some big shoes to fill. “To be selected as our next fire chief is both humbling and a tremendous honor; I am excited to take on the challenge.” LaGrandeur and wife RaeNell, a teacher in the Central Kitsap School District, have two adult children and three grandchildren. On the rare occasions that LaGrandeur has spare time, he spends it with his family. He also enjoys soccer and golf.

Smith’s career will be honored and LaGrandeur’s promotion celebrated in ceremonies starting at 5 p.m.on February 4 at the Clearwater Casino Resort Event Center.

NKF&R serves the communities of Hansville, Kingston, Miller Bay, Indianola and Suquamish across a 46-square mile area.  The district’s Board of Fire Commissioners meets on the second and fourth Mondays of every month at 7 p.m. in NKF&R’s headquarters fire station (26642 Miller Bay Road NE near Kingston) and online.  NKF&R’s 2021 expense budget was $10.2 million. In 2021, crews responded to 3,360 incidents from four staffed fire stations.  About two-thirds of all calls were for emergency medical services.


December 31, 2022

Man displaced following destructive mobile home fire

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — An adult male escaped without injury when he awoke to find smoke filling his home early on Saturday morning. The cause of the fire, which displaced the man and destroyed many of his possessions, is thought to be accidental. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians in the blaze.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department crews were called to the Fox Glove Ln. residence at 3:14 a.m. While en route, crews requested additional resources due to reports confirming a working fire. More crews, including units from Bainbridge Island Fire Department and Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, responded. The first firefighters arrived in just under 8 minutes, and reported flames visible from a single wide mobile home with an attached wood-framed structure. The single occupant of the house was safely outside and reported to crews he lived alone with no pets. Crews conducted an interior fire attack and completed a search of the home finding no additional victims. With no fire hydrants nearby, crews used water tender trucks to deliver water supply for the firefight.

Although the fire was brought under control quickly, firefighters spent several hours thoroughly checking for any other hot spots and removing salvageable belongings. Officials say that the construction of mobile homes leads them to burn fast and hot, frequently resulting in complete destruction when fire strikes.

The trailer’s occupant, an adult male, told officials that he awoke to find smoke filling the mobile home. He began to search for the source but safely escaped after finding his living room on fire. The residence and its contents were not insured. NKF&R firefighters contacted the male’s family who will be working with him with the assistance of Red Cross to find longer-term solutions.

The older mobile home had smoke alarms that apparently did not activate. The occupant estimated the alarms’ age at about 40 years. Officials recommend that smoke alarms be replaced every ten years.

Two investigators from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the incident. Based on witness statements and evidence at the scene, they say that the fire likely started when a broiler generated enough heat to ignite nearby combustibles.


December 19, 2022

Recovering cardiac arrest patient reunites with links in his personal “chain of survival”

At the November 28 NKF&R Board of Fire Commissioners meeting, representatives of the links that came together in a chain of survival to successfully resuscitate a Kingston man following his late October cardiac arrest reunited to celebrate the strength of the system. From left to right: (Jeanell Rasmussen, Chief Nursing Officer, SMMC); Samuel McClendon (AMI Coordinator); the patient, Kevin Magraw; the patient’s son, Ryan Magraw; Lori Danko, Director, Emergency Services at SMMC: Tiffany Ligon, Interim Director, Critical Care at SMMC; Nick Waldbillig of Kitsap 911, Rick LaGrandeur, NKF&R Assistant Chief, who represented the fire district crew that was unable to stay at the meeting after members were called away for a house fire response. Patient’s name and case details used with his permission.

Remarkable survival story illustrates everyday strength of local emergency medical services

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — All of the links in his own “chain of survival” were represented when a 63 year-old Kingston man came to last month’s Board of Fire Commissioners meeting at North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) to express his gratitude for the skill and competence of the professionals who participated in his recovery from an October 23 cardiac arrest. However, though the short and informal ceremony highlighted the strength of the entire system, officials turned the focus of the event to the man’s adult son for his pivotal role in the successful outcome.

The Mayo Clinic defines cardiac arrest as the abrupt loss of heart function, breathing and consciousness. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that successful recovery from an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest requires a strong chain of survival in which every link functions quickly and effectively. AHA includes six links in the adult chain of survival:

  • Recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency medical services (EMS) system
  • Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
  • Rapid defibrillation
  • Advanced resuscitation by EMS and other healthcare providers
  • Post-cardiac arrest care
  • Recovery (including additional treatment, observation and rehabilitation)

When the man collapsed at his Kingston home that Sunday morning, every link in the chain of survival was strong. After finding his father unconscious and unresponsive, the son called 911 and started CPR. Nick Waldbillig answered the son’s call to Kitsap 911. Nick sent the information he gathered over to a dispatcher and, while NKF&R units made their way to the difficult-to-access scene, the call-receiver stayed on the line with the son as the man performed CPR on his father. Despite the difficult-to-access location off of Sandy Beach Lane, the first NKF&R crew arrived in just over eight minutes. Within moments, a team of seven NKF&R personnel led by Firefighter/Paramedic Matt Thompson and Battalion Chief Ryan Buchanan was working together to provide CPR, defibrillation (while wielded by professional rescuers in this case, life-saving defibrillators can correct lethal heart rhythms and are widely available in public settings) and intubation (advanced airway control to ensure continued oxygen delivery to the patient’s lungs). Treatment continued as the patient was loaded into an ambulance and transported rapidly to St. Michael Medical Center (SMMC). The patient arrested again several times while en route to Silverdale; Thompson administered medications that prevented additional arrests, and further stabilized the patient.

Although a house fire response prevented NKF&R crew members from attending the brief ceremony on November 28 celebrating the successful resuscitation of a Kingston man, they were able to meet with him earlier in the month. From left to right: Firefighter Russell Fergus; Firefighter Brooks Ellingsen; the patient’s son, Ryan Magraw; the patient, Kevin Magraw; Firefighter/Paramedic Matt Thompson; Firefighter Alex Cryder and Battalion Chief Ryan Buchanan. Also on the call but not pictured: Firefighter/Paramedic Mike Nicholas, Lieutenant Brandon Robichaux and Firefighter Billy Bergstrom. Patient’s name and case details used with his permission.

As is the case with critical patients, this gentleman received immediate care upon arrival at the SMMC emergency department. Multidisciplinary care teams quickly worked to stabilize him, including emergency medicine physicians and nurses, imaging specialists, pharmacists, a cardiologist and an intensivist. Once stable, the patient was cleared for cardiac intervention. With a cardiac program in the top 10% in the country for care, the SMMC cardiology team first conducted a procedure to increase blood flow to the patient’s heart. Subsequently, he had a pacemaker with internal defibrillator placed to detect and stop irregular heartbeats (arrhythmias) in the future. Throughout his stay, our post-op care team, including respiratory therapists, nutritionists, case managers and physical therapists collaborated to ensure his recovery was complete and his transition home was seamless.

However, the patient’s son made the biggest difference by recognizing the emergency, calling 911 and performing good CPR until professional rescuers arrived. “Every part of the chain of survival is vital, but the son’s actions were the key link in his father’s successful resuscitation,” noted NKF&R Assistant Chief Rick LaGrandeur. At the fire district’s November 28 Board of Fire Commissioners meeting, LaGrandeur presented the son with challenge coins that are usually reserved for fire service members, explaining that the son was a critically-important member of the team on this particular call.

While the story is impressive, it is not unique due to the strength of Kitsap County’s chain of survival which includes the professionals at Kitsap 911, local fire and EMS agencies such as NKF&R and the exceptional cardiac care provided at SMMC. As illustrated by this patient’s story, community members have pivotal roles in the system and all are encouraged to do their part to keep the chain strong:

  • Learn and stay current with CPR training
  • Call 911 at the first sign of cardiac arrest or conditions that could lead to cardiac arrest such as heart attack and stroke

November 29, 2022

Pets lost, couple displaced in Monday night fire

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — A couple has lost their pets, their home and many of their possessions in a fire that broke out here on Monday evening. As crews fought the stubborn fire in freezing weather, the busy highway between Kingston and Poulsbo was limited to one lane of travel between Ritter Lane and SR 307. Although the landlord insured the structure, the couple did not have renter’s insurance. An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene and, while she believes that the blaze started accidentally, the fire’s exact cause remains under investigation. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department crews were called to the former Brazeau Mobile Home Park at 6:45 p.m. after a bystander called 9-1-1 to report the fire. The neighbor was alerted to a problem when he noticed fluctuating power at his home and went outside to investigate what he thought was a transformer or other electrical problem. Instead, he found flames coming from the one-story 1,800 SF house’s attached carport, across the highway from his own home.

The first firefighters arrived from NKF&R’s Miller Bay Road station less than five minutes after dispatch and found that the fire had broken through windows between the carport and the main structure. Ultimately, more than 20 personnel from across North Kitsap responded to the incident. Because there was limited space in the home’s driveway, fire engines and other vehicles were forced to stage along SR 104 which limited travel in to one lane alternating for several hours in the immediate vicinity. Washington State Patrol troopers and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office deputies assisted with traffic control. The heavy materials — such as car decking, tongue-and-groove and metal roofing — used in the mid-century home made it difficult to access the fire as it traveled through hidden spaces between the structure, its ceiling and its attic areas. The closest fire hydrants were about 800 feet away, so fire managers used water tender trucks to supply the estimated 7,500 gallons used in the firefighting effort. Fire damage was most severe in the carport and adjacent living spaces. Water and smoke damage affected the rest of the home except in two bedrooms where closed doors protected those spaces and contents from the fire’s effects.

Both occupants were volunteering (one, at church and the other, at the local severe weather shelter) at the time of the fire, returning home upon hearing about the incident. Sadly, their pets — a french bulldog and two birds — were inside and did not survive. The couple is receiving assistance from firefighters, friends and their church.

Officials emphasize the importance of renters insurance. For premiums averaging less than $30 per month, renters can get coverage against the loss of their belongings from fire and other events.


November 3, 2022

Almost every member of NKF&R’s A-Shift shaved their heads on November 2 as part of an effort to raise awareness about cancers. The team is also raising money for Be The Match — an organization that provides education to encourage participation in the bone marrow registry and widen the pool of potential donors for bone marrow transplants that can save lives for many blood cancer patients.

Firefighters Go Shave for No Shave
NKF&R crew shaves their heads to raise awareness about cancers, bone marrow transplant matches

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — A large contingent of North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) firefighters have shaved their heads in a different twist on the “No Shave November” movement, hoping to provoke conversation about the terrible impacts of cancer and the importance of bone marrow matches (www.bethematch.org) in successful treatment for many forms of the disease. Cancer affects firefighters at much higher rates than the general population, and several NKF&R members have been impacted. Members of the public are encouraged to support the firefighters’ efforts by visiting their team page.

According to the No Shave website, the November observance has been a tradition for many years. It became a fundraiser for cancer-fighting charities in 2009. Participants let their facial hair grow throughout the month and donate what they would have spent on grooming. This is the first year that NKF&R firefighters have mounted an organized effort. Since many firefighters already have impressive mustaches (and beards are prohibited because they interfere with the seal of masks for self-contained breathing apparatus used in firefighting), the NKF&R crew decided that they couldn’t make a strong enough statement with a traditional “no shave” month. They opted instead to shave their heads; yesterday, a team of about 15 of the district’s firefighters went under the clippers.

Firefighters are at greater risk for several cancers including leukemias and lymphomas, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Bone marrow transplants (BMT) are a key treatment for these blood cancers. NKF&R’s team has chosen Be The Match as recipient of their donations because the organization is working to strengthen resources available to patients who might be helped through BMT.


Fire officials say that extra care must be taken to avoid accidental activation when using stoves with front-mounted controls, and urge everyone to keep combustibles well clear of burners and other heat-generating appliances. Investigators believe that the pictured stove’s burner was inadvertently turned on to spark yesterday’s fire at the Village Green Senior Apartments.

October 12, 2022

Sprinklers snuff fire at seniors’ apartment complex

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — No one was injured and damage was limited when automatic sprinklers quickly controlled a fire in Kingston yesterday afternoon at the 36-unit, 3-1/2 story Village Green Senior Apartments.  Investigators say that the blaze was likely accidental, resulting when combustibles atop a stove caught fire after a burner was inadvertently turned on. Although at least three have been displaced by water or smoke damage, most of the building’s occupants have returned to their apartments that evening after the building’s water, electrical and fire protection systems were restored.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were initially called to a fire alarm activation at the Village Green Senior Apartments a 3:49 p.m. on Tuesday.  While en route, crews learned that there was smoke visible and a sprinkler head had activated.  The response was upgraded to a second-alarm commercial structure fire at 3:54 p.m., bringing additional units from NKF&R as well as from Bainbridge Island Fire Department, Poulsbo Fire Department, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue and Puget Sound Federal Fire Department.  The first firefighters to arrive on scene found the fire controlled. They quickly finished extinguishing it and returned more of the additional crews to their stations.

NKF&R Firefighter Clif McKenzie, left, and Firefighter Sean Jensen, right, load hose following this afternoon’s fire at Village Green Senior Apartments. The building’s sprinkler system effectively controlled the fire before it could grow to threaten the building and its occupants — most of whom are seniors or disabled persons.

Investigators from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office also responded.  Witness statements and evidence at the scene point to a first-floor apartment’s kitchen where it appears that a small appliance in a cardboard box on a stove top was ignited when one of the burner controls, situated on the stove’s front face, was accidentally turned on before the apartment’s occupant left the space.  When heat from the growing fire reached it, a sprinkler head activated to squelch the flames, sound the building’s alarm system and summon firefighters.  Fire officials say that extra care must be taken to avoid accidental activation when using stoves with front-mounted controls, and urge everyone to keep combustibles well clear of burners and other heat-generating appliances.

Says NKF&R Spokeswoman Michèle Laboda, “The fire sprinkler system did its job, stopping a growing fire before it could threaten the property or the lives of the building’s occupants, and the impacts from the sprinkler system are minimal compared to the damage that would otherwise have been caused by a fire’s heat and smoke.”  In a facility like the Village Green Senior Apartments where many of the occupants have limited mobility, fire protection systems including automatic sprinklers provide a vital measure of safety for everyone but especially for residents who may not be able to evacuate quickly, she adds.

Occupants were out of the building for nearly five hours Tuesday evening, with many taking refuge at the adjacent Village Green Community Center where staff and volunteers treated them to pizza and other refreshments while they waited. The displaced residents are either staying with family members or at local hotels.


September 12, 2022

Sprinkler system thwarts restaurant fire sparked by oily rags

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — Damage was limited to the building’s exterior after an automatic sprinkler system knocked down a fire that appears to have started within a bucket of oily rags outside the Puerto Vallarta restaurant here in the early hours of Monday morning.

An automatic fire alarm activation and a call from a Kitsap County Sheriff’s Deputy initiated a large commercial structure fire response including units from North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R), Poulsbo Fire Department and Puget Sound Federal Fire Department at Subase Bangor to the SR 104 business. The first crews arrived on scene less than four minutes after the 3:40 a.m. dispatch, and found the alarm sounding with light smoke coming from the building’s east side. Upon further investigation, firefighters found a small fire on the building’s loading dock that had been mostly snuffed by the automatic sprinkler system. Crews finished extinguishing the fire, returning most of the other crews to their home stations.

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene and, based on witness statements and physical evidence, determined that the fire likely originated in a bucket of oil-soaked rags. Damage was limited to the bucket and the area immediately adjacent where an electrical line was severed by the heat. The sprinkler system, which was highly-effective at both controlling the fire and activating the alarm to get firefighters en route, caused no damage. According to research by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), fire sprinklers can lower the risk of property loss by as much as 70%.

Blazes sparked by oily rags are most common in residential settings, causing an estimated 900 fires a year but, as illustrated this morning, businesses are not immune. These types of fires can be prevented by handling oil-soaked rags carefully. NFPA recommends that they never be left in a pile. Instead, they should be placed in a metal container filled with water and detergent, and capped with a tight-fitting lid. Learn more at https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/OilyRagsSafetyTips.ashx


The first NKF&R crew on scene of last night’s shed and dump truck fire near Kingston snapped this photo as they arrived.

August 10, 2022

Dump Truck, Shed Destroyed in Late Night Fire
Cause as yet undetermined

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — A full-sized dump truck and large shed were consumed by fire near here overnight, but firefighters were able to keep the blaze from spreading to additional buildings or vehicles. The fire’s cause remains under investigation, and officials at the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office (KCFMO) are looking for anyone with information about the incident. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department units were called to a structure fire at Whitworth Excavating off of Ecology Road just before 11:40 p.m. Tuesday. Law enforcement smelled smoke in the area and, after looking for its source, spotted the flames and asked Kitsap 911 to dispatch firefighters

NKF&R Firefighter/Paramedic Janelle Randles fights a shed and dump truck fire near Kingston last night.

. The first NKF&R unit arrived on scene within 5 minutes and reported that the truck and 20′ x 20′ shed were already fully-involved in flames, threatening other vehicles and structures. Despite a locked gate, crews had water on the fire just 4 minutes later and, shortly thereafter, canceled the additional resources coming from Poulsbo. The flames were under control quickly; one of the business’s other nearby vehicles sustained minor damage.

A KCFMO investigator responded to the scene. No cause has been determined, and persons with any information about the incident are asked to call Assistant Fire Marshal Tina Turner at (360)337-5777.


NKF&R Firefighter Charlie Hough scans the remains of an RV that burned Tuesday afternoon in Suquamish, looking for signs of heat, after firefighters extinguished the flames that destroyed the unregistered vehicle. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians in the incident.

August 3, 2022

RV Destroyed in Tuesday Afternoon Fire

(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) — A large motorhome was consumed by a dramatic fire that drew lots of attention here this afternoon but despite proximity, firefighters were able to keep the flames from spreading to adjacent structures though a nearby car was damaged. While the fire’s cause is undetermined, officials believe it started inside the unregistered recreational vehicle.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were initially called to reports of smoke and flames coming from an RV parked on Cedar Street. When firefighters learned that a nearby home was also threatened, they called for the additional resources of a full structure fire response initially bringing more firefighters from Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island. The first unit arrived about 8-1/2 minutes after dispatch. Although the effort was complicated by an electrical service line burned through and on the ground, firefighters safely and successfully protected the nearby structures and squelched the RV’s flames within 15 minutes of getting to the scene. Some roads in the area were briefly blocked while crews worked.

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene. While evidence pointed to the inside of the vehicle as the area of the fire’s origin, its cause could not be determined. Owner(s) or occupant(s) couldn’t be located, the vehicle hadn’t had a valid registration for more than five years and, despite a large volume of items stored inside, the RV was likely uninsured.

There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.


July 28, 2022

NKF&R FUNDING MEASURE HEADED TO NOVEMBER BALLOT
Proposal replaces vital funding by restoring fire levy rate; maintains levels of service with support for day-to-day operations and capital needs

(KINGSTON, Wash.) – Officials at North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) announced today that the district is putting a measure on the November general election ballot to replace funding from an expiring special levy and maintain levels of service by returning the fire levy rate to its previously-approved level of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. Passage of the measure will also provide resources to rebuild the district’s outdated Suquamish station, replace some aging apparatus and add additional firefighter positions. As required by Washington state law, the district is seeking community members to serve on the committees that will write “pro” and “con” statements on the measure for the local voters’ pamphlet.

NKF&R’s Suquamish fire station is the district’s oldest. It was originally built in the middle of the last century and, unlike the district’s three other staffed stations, wasn’t designed to withstand an earthquake or meet other modern safety standards. Its replacement will ensure reliable response to the community by providing firefighters with a safer and healthier work environment. With average ambulance transport distances of 35 miles round-trip, NKF&R’s medic and aid cars rack up miles quickly. The district needs to order one new ambulance as soon as possible, and will rechassis three others over the next few years. Also over the next few years, NKF&R plans to create three additional firefighter positions to help guarantee consistent staffing while reducing expensive overtime costs.

The proposed measure would allow the district to collect $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation in 2023. Voter-approved citizen initiatives have imposed caps on property tax increases so fire district levy rates have decreased as assessed property valuations have increased. Proposed measures like NKF&R’s give voters more control over fire district funding, determining what level of service can be offered. In 2022, NKF&R is collecting about $0.97 per $1,000 on its fire levy. Its special maintenance and operations levy ends after this year. Because this voter-approved measure is expiring and increasing assessed valuations are causing other levy rates to fall, it’s estimated that restoration of the fire levy rate to $1.50 will result in a total fire tax rate in 2023 that’s just $0.11 per $1,000 higher than in 2022.

The Kitsap County Assessor estimates that the 2022 median assessed valuation of a home in NKF&R’s district is $453,910. In 2023, the median assessed valuation is expected to rise to $550,840. Restoration of the fire levy would cost the owner of the median home about $230 (or $19 per month) in 2023, the measure’s first year. In the measure’s remaining five years and to ensure that the district can accomplish its stated goals as prices rise, the fire levy would be limited to annual increases of 1% or the rate of the consumer price index, not to exceed 6%. The effects on individual taxpayers will vary with increases or decreases to each property’s assessed valuation. Interested parties can contact the district for information on impacts to their specific tax bill.

By state law, fire protection districts are limited in their revenue sources. The district receives no on-going federal, state or county funding; NKF&R gets 77% of its operating funds through property taxes. Across Kitsap County, fire and emergency medical taxes average about 16% of each property tax bill.

To ensure that the public has all of the information needed to make a decision on the proposal, NKF&R is hosting a series of public meetings. The most current list of those events as well as many other resources will be available on the district’s web site at www.nkfr.org/proposition-1-2022-restoration-of-fire-levy/.

Members of the pro and con committees must be appointed by August 2. Individuals interested in volunteering for either committee are encouraged to contact District Secretary Katie Patti via phone at (360)860-8120 or via email at patti@nkfr.org.

NKF&R serves the communities of Hansville, Kingston, Miller Bay, Indianola and Suquamish across a 46 square mile area. A board of five commissioners, elected at large, oversees the district. That body meets on the second and fourth Mondays of every month at 7 p.m. in NKF&R’s headquarters fire station (26642 Miller Bay Road NE) and online. The district’s 2021 expense budget was $10.2 million. In 2021, crews responded to 3,360 incidents from four staffed fire stations. About two-thirds of all calls were for emergency medical services.


July 21, 2022

Back-to-back house fires this week in North Kitsap

(NORTH KITSAP, Wash.) — North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews have been unusually busy with fires this year and Tuesday was no exception as the district’s crews tackled two separate house fires in just twelve hours.  Compared to the same time period last year, the number of residential fires in the district to date in 2022 has more than doubled — from 4 in 2021 to 10 this year.  The incidents have all been accidental in nature with no significant patterns in causes or origins.  Still, NKF&R officials are concerned about the trend and encourage the public to take fire prevention and preparedness steps.

A teenager, alerted by the smell of smoke moments before alarms sounded, is credited with limiting damage from a smoldering wall fire Tuesday morning. He woke his mom, making sure a 911 call got responders — including a neighbor who’s an off-duty firefighter — on their way. NKF&R and Poulsbo Fire Department crews were called to the home off of Lindvog Road in Kingston at 7:18 on Tuesday morning.  The off-duty firefighter got there shortly after the call, making sure that all people and pets had evacuated and all doors were closed (when there’s a fire, open doors provide airflow that speeds fire growth). The first on-duty crew arrived in about 8-1/2 minutes from NKF&R’s Miller Bay Road station and reported light smoke showing from the 2,500 SF two-story home. Additional units came from NKF&R’s other stations as well as from Poulsbo. Because there are no nearby fire hydrants, tenders also responded.  Firefighters were able to squelch the flames with less water than is carried in the fire engine’s 750-gallon tank and had the fire under control less than ten minutes after their arrival. Investigators from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office (KCFMO) responded to the scene and, based on physical evidence and witness statements, believe that the fire may have started with an electric fish smoker that had been operating overnight on the home’s deck. The appliance apparently overheated to char the wooden picnic table, dropping embers through deck slats to spark the wall fire below.  Fire damage was limited to a small portion of the home’s exterior wall and floor while water damage impacted one room’s hardwoods.  The home’s three occupants and their pets weren’t been displaced by the incident, and the home is insured. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.

A neighbor made the difference in NKF&R’s second fire on Tuesday evening, spotting flames coming from a Suquamish home’s roof and calling 911 while attempting to warn the house’s female occupant.  She later told crews that her smoke alarms weren’t working due to missing batteries; she’d been watching TV at the time of the fire, and was unaware of the growing danger just a few feet away but ultimately was safely evacuated with her dog and her cat.  KCFMO investigators say that the physical evidence and witness statements point to a failed bathroom ceiling fan that dropped hot material into combustibles below as the likely origin of the fire. NKF&R, Poulsbo and Bainbridge Island Fire Department crews were dispatched to the Division Avenue incident at about 7:32 p.m. on Tuesday evening.  The first unit arrived from NKF&R’s Suquamish station just about 6 minutes later.  Also at this fire, hydrants weren’t readily available and crews relied upon tender trucks to supply water for firefighting. Although the one-story manufactured home was only about 1,100 SF, the fire was difficult to fully extinguish due to an unusually large amount of stored materials in and around the fire’s origin. Still, firefighters had the blaze under control within 30 minutes of their arrival.  Most of the house’s southwest corner was consumed by the fire; heat and heavy smoke damage affected the rest of the structure. The home is insured but no longer habitable so the woman and her pets are staying with family.  The American Red Cross is also helping. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.

More than four-fifths of all fires occur in the place we feel safest — our own homes. Prevent fires by inviting firefighters in to do a home safety survey, or conducting your own.  Prepare for fires by making sure your smoke alarms are well-placed, less than ten years old and (if applicable) outfitted with fresh batteries.  Design a home fire escape plan with at least two ways out of every room and one meeting place outside.  For more information about fire prevention and preparedness, see NKF&R’s website at www.nkfr.org/information/safety-tips/ or call the district at (360)297-3619.


June 25, 2022

Unattended cooking sparks kitchen fire

(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) — No one was injured but a Suquamish home’s kitchen was scorched after a pan, left heating unattended on the stove, caught fire and spread to involve adjacent cabinets and walls here this afternoon.

Units from North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R), Poulsbo Fire Department and Bainbridge Island Fire Department were dispatched to the one-story home on Maple Street at 2:10 p.m. following a 9-1-1 call from one of the residence’s two occupants.  The first unit, from NKF&R’s Suquamish fire station, arrived on scene in less than four minutes to find light smoke showing and the occupants evacuated.  The crew had the fire extinguished just five minutes later, and returned units from neighboring districts to their stations. After checking to make sure the fire hadn’t extended further into hidden wall or attic spaces, firefighters cleared the fire’s fumes from the residence and replaced the home’s older smoke alarms which failed to activate despite the presence of heavy smoke.

Fire damage was limited to the areas adjacent to the stove while light smoke damage affected most of the small, one-story home.  The occupants haven’t been displaced.

One of the occupants told firefighters that he’d been preparing to cook and set the pan on the stove to heat before going to another room.  They were alerted to the incident by the sounds of the fire.

More fires originate in the kitchen than in any other part of the home and unattended cooking is the leading cause, according to the National Fire Protection Association. The most effective strategy to avoid these most common fires is to stay in the kitchen when cooking.

Because they know that smoke alarms save lives (3 out of 5 fire deaths occur in homes without working smoke alarms), NKF&R firefighters donate their own funds to purchase the devices they carry on their engines and ambulances to install when needed.


June 16, 2022

Firefighters rescue woman, dog after tumble
Both escape injury in fall down shoreside bank

The team that rescued a visiting 78 year-old woman after her fall a few feet down a cliff included (from left to right): Lieutenant Mike Cunningham, Firefighter (and Kitsap County Technical Rescue team member) Alex Cryder, Lieutenant Brandon Robichaux, Firefighter Brooks Ellingsen, Firefighter Billy Bergstrom and Firefighter Dean Schuster. Also pictured are the rescuee, Cooper the Labrador and the rescuee’s son. Not pictured: Battalion Chief Ryan Buchanan. All fire personnel are from North Kitsap Fire & Rescue.

(EGLON, Wash.) — Firefighters rescued a woman and a dog early Tuesday morning after they fell over a cliff at a vacation rental here.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) deputies were called to an address off of Eglon Road at 1:19 a.m. KCSO arrived first and found that the woman, a 78 year-old from San Diego, was in deep brush about 10 feet below the top of the bank and uninjured but also unable to climb back up. Fire crews arrived shortly thereafter and requested additional resources from the county’s technical rescue team. The team is composed of specially-trained firefighters from each of the county’s seven fire departments. Concerned that the woman might fall further before the entire specialized team could arrive, crews at the scene quickly devised and implemented a plan to rescue her safely using ropes and ladders. Once the woman was safe, firefighters canceled their request for the other tech rescue team members. Crews located the dog on a ledge about 50 feet further down and were able to lower him to the beach before utilizing the property’s stairs to return him to his owner. Although the woman had several scratches and bruises, she declined medical treatment or transport. The dog appeared to have emerged without serious injury, too.

The woman had just landed at Sea-Tac Airport on Monday evening after flying in from her home in California to spend the week with her son and his 15-month old labrador, Cooper, at the waterview rental. They arrived at the unfamiliar home after dark and, while exploring the new territory, the dog disappeared. The pair tried to locate him, calling his name and hearing increasingly-faint barking from the beach’s direction. They feared the worst when the barking ceased, but continued to search in the rain and the dark for at least two hours before deciding to try again in the morning light. The son took one more drive down the road and the woman, while taking one last look over the bank’s edge, lost her footing.

Fire personnel followed up with the family on Wednesday; all three continue to do well and are enjoying their visit to North Kitsap.


June 11, 2022

A vape pen, left charging on the nightstand at right, is thought to have sparked a fire last evening at a Miller Bay home when the device apparently failed and ignited nearby papers and bedding.

Smoke alarms, closed doors limit damage from vape pen blaze

(MILLER BAY, Wash.) — The early warning of working, interconnected smoke alarms and a homeowner’s actions are credited with helping firefighters make a quick stop on a vape pen-sparked blaze at a house in a difficult-to-access location not served by fire hydrants here last evening.

Firefighters from North Kitsap Fire & Rescue’s Suquamish station were initially called to the Early Dawn Lane residence at 6:18 p.m. on Friday. As they made their way to the scene, off of Miller Bay Road between Suquamish and Kingston, additional information suggested a more serious incident, and they requested more resources from the district’s other stations as well as from Bainbridge Island and Poulsbo.  The first crew arrived just 5-1/2 minutes after dispatch to find smoke coming from the 3,200 SF home’s basement.  The fire engine couldn’t make it down the home’s driveway, so the crew had to pull 400′ of hose line to reach the fire which was snuffed with less than 50 gallons of water. Water tender trucks responded to the scene as a precaution but they were not needed.

The couple, who live at the home along with their adult son, told firefighters that they were on the home’s main floor when the alarms activated throughout the house.  Her husband called 9-1-1 while the woman searched for the source of the alarm. She found smoke on the basement level coming from behind a closed door, opened it to further investigate and quickly closed it again. Firefighters say that closing the door was instrumental in keeping the fire small by depriving it of the air it needed to grow.

Investigators from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene.

Despite difficult access and lack of fire hydrants, NKF&R firefighters were able to confine a fire to its room of origin — largely because the homeowner slowed the blaze’s growth by quickly shutting the door after discovering the fire in their Miller Bay home last evening.

Physical evidence and witness statements point to a malfunction in a charging vape pen as the likely cause of the fire.  It had been plugged in when the son left for a walk and, apparently, ignited nearby papers and bedding when it failed.  A charging vape pen was also the likely cause of a January fire in Kingston’s Village Green Apartments.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration offers tips to prevent vape pen mishaps and recommends they not be left charging unattended.

Fire damage was limited to the room of origin while light smoke affected the adjacent areas of the basement.  The family, who was not displaced by the incident, is insured.  There were no injuries to firefighters, civilians or the family’s four cats.


May 31, 2022

Flames are clearly visible in this photo, supplied to NKF&R by neighbor Mary Krukar and taken moments before the first firefighters arrived on scene of Saturday night’s house fire in Miller Bay Estates.

Smoke alarms alert sleeping occupants in destructive fire
Cause under investigation

(MILLER BAY ESTATES, Wash.) — Working smoke alarms are thought to have awakened two teens after a fire broke out in their home here late Saturday evening. Though the pair and two of the household’s three pets escaped the flames, a cat perished and the family has been displaced. It appears that the fire was accidental in nature but, according to officials at the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office (KCFMO), the exact cause remains under investigation. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R), Poulsbo Fire Department and Bainbridge Island Fire Department crews were dispatched to the 1,860 SF, two-story home on Apollo Drive at 10:26 p.m. Saturday. The first crews — from NKF&R’s Miller Bay Road and South Kingston Road stations — got to the scene less than seven minutes after dispatch, and reported flames visible from one side of the house. Despite a lack of hydrants in the neighborhood, firefighters used water in the first two engines’ tanks (about 1,000 gallons) to attack the flames quickly, stopping the fire’s spread within five minutes of their arrival. Still, the home’s first floor sustained significant

After Saturday night’s Miller Bay Estates house fire was under control, firefighters continued to work. Portions of sheetrock were removed to ensure that no dangerous hot spots remained. The beam of light reveals the dense particulate matter that hangs in the air after a fire, and that’s why crews keep their breathing apparatus on even after the fire is out. At left is NKF&R Firefighter Brady Vernik and NKF&R Firefighter Harold Redrico is on the right. The blaze is thought to have started in the laundry room, just beyond the wall at the photo’s right.

fire damage; heat and smoke affected the second floor. Unfortunately, one of the family’s two cats was found deceased in an upstairs bedroom. Crews kept working until 1:30 a.m. on Sunday, extinguishing any remaining hot spots and salvaging the family’s possessions. While firefighters worked, Apollo Drive was blocked to traffic at Dolphin.

One of the teens told officials that he woke up to alarms sounding and smoke in his second-floor bedroom. He shouted, “Fire,” which awakened his brother. They found flames in the home’s first-floor laundry room and, after brief attempts to snuff the blaze, the teens evacuated with the family’s dog and called 9-1-1. The other cat apparently escaped on its own. Their mother had left home around 9 p.m. to visit a friend and returned as soon as she received a call about the fire from her sons.

“Working smoke alarms are key to preventing far more tragic outcomes when home fires strike,” notes NKF&R Battalion Chief Alex Hickey, incident commander at Saturday’s fire. The National Fire Protection Association says that the chances of survival are doubled when working smoke alarms are present. Adds NKF&R Spokeswoman Michèle Laboda, “We know that smoke alarms save lives so we urge the community to test theirs monthly, change batteries when/if recommended and replace the units every ten years. We’ll even help with that if needed.” Learn more at www.tinyurl.com/NKFRSmokeAlarms.

A KCMFO investigator was on the scene Saturday evening and Sunday morning, pinpointing the fire’s area of origin in the laundry room. The effort to determine the cause continues.

The family is insured, and is receiving assistance from the American Red Cross.


April 12, 2022

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office (left) and NKF&R firefighters examine the area of origin for a Monday night fire on a boat docked in Miller Bay.

Boat fire on Miller Bay
Quick detection and fast response limit damage

(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) —  Thanks to an early 911 call and quick response by firefighters, damage was limited and there were no injuries to firefighters or civilians in a late-night fire aboard a boat moored at a private Miller Bay dock.  Though the blaze’s exact cause has not yet been determined, investigators are looking closely at one of the most common sources of boat fires — electrical issues.

Damage from a Monday night boat fire was limited — thanks to early reporting from bystanders and fast response from NKF&R firefighters.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department crews were called to the incident, accessed via a driveway off of Miller Bay Road between Suquamish and Kingston, at 10:41 p.m. Monday.  Tenants of the home on the same property as the dock called 9-1-1 after noticing flames aboard the vessel. The first unit arrived within 5 minutes from NKF&R’s Suquamish station, and reported the 40 – 50′ vessel to be partly involved in fire.  Despite the estimated 450-foot distance between the driveway’s end and the fire, the crew had water on the fire to darken down the flames within 3-1/2 minutes of their arrival.  Fire damage was limited to the flying bridge and one exterior wall of the older, houseboat-style boat with the most destruction in the vicinity of the boat’s connection to shore power. Smoke damage was evident throughout the craft’s cabin — except where one stateroom’s closed-door protected it. The fire was stopped before it could sink the boat or spread to three other neighboring vessels, preserving property and preventing threats to the marine environment from spilled fuel and other debris.

According to Boat U.S., electrical issues are the most common cause of boat fires.  The U.S. Fire Administration offers tips on preventing boat fires, including regular inspection of electrical wiring and connections — especially around saltwater where corrosion can be a significant problem. It’s also important to install and maintain smoke and carbon-monoxide alarms aboard boats.

The vessel is not insured.


January 21, 2022

Two adults and two children are safe this evening, thanks to a neighbor who alerted them to the danger after the family’s home caught fire in Suquamish early this morning.

Family uninjured but displaced after welding sparks Suquamish fire
Neighbor credited with alerting occupants

(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) — A family of four is displaced but escaped without injury after a fire, that likely started with a smoldering welder’s spark in the carport outside, spread to cause serious damage to the 1,100 SF rental home. Though the house was equipped with a smoke alarm, it was a neighbor who spotted the flames and alerted the family in Friday’s pre-dawn hours. Firefighters are crediting him with preventing this morning’s fire from becoming even more tragic.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R), Bainbridge Island Fire Department and Poulsbo Fire Department crews were called to the Maple Street residence at 5:48 a.m. Friday. The neighbor saw the fire, shouted to his girlfriend to make the 9-1-1 call and ran to rouse the sleeping family of two adults and two children. After the neighbor’s persistent shouting and pounding on the door, the family awakened and evacuated the burning home as smoke began to fill the interior spaces to trip the alarm. The first

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office examines the debris remaining after a fire, apparently started with a welder’s spark, caused serious damage to a Suquamish home early Friday morning. Vertical pieces of a box that was being welded onto a truck bed are visible through the collapsed carport roof at right.

crew arrived about seven minutes after dispatch from NKF&R’s Suquamish fire station, and reported the carport ablaze with flames extending to the attic. Firefighters had the majority of the fire knocked down right away but it proved more difficult to fully extinguish as hot spots persisted under the collapsed carport and within the attic. The majority of the home’s living spaces weren’t directly affected by flames but, except where closed doors protected the spaces within, smoke and heat damage was evident throughout.

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene, and has determined that the fire was accidental in nature. The occupant told officials that, throughout the previous day, he’d been using welding equipment in the carport to construct a box on the bed of a heavy duty pick-up he’d purchased just several days earlier. The carport also housed the truck and materials for an ongoing remodeling project as well as tools and other combustibles. Based on physical evidence, it appears that a spark from the welding operation — a common hazard of hot work like welding, soldering and grinding — may have dropped into the combustibles nearby, likely smoldering undetected for some time before breaking out into active fire.

Prevention experts like the National Fire Protection Association caution against conducting hot work in proximity to items that can catch fire, and recommend careful monitoring for sparks after hot work has been completed for the day. Read more hot work fire prevention tips here.

The family did not have renters’ insurance that would cover the loss of possessions damaged in the fire. NKF&R firefighters’ North Kitsap Community Partnership Fund is providing the family with temporary lodging at a local hotel, and the American Red Cross has been contacted to assist them as well.


January 21, 2022

Fire scorches unit, smokes building at Kingston senior apartment complex

Just before the building’s alarm system sounded, Toffee alerted her owner that something was amiss and the woman called 911 to report the problem at Village Green Senior Apartments on Thursday afternoon.

(KINGSTON, Wash.) — There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians but two occupants were displaced after a charging vape pen apparently malfunctioned to spark a fire at the Village Green Senior Apartments on Thursday afternoon. Firefighters quickly snuffed the blaze that scorched one first floor unit and resulted in water damage to another in the basement below but, for safety reasons, residents of the 35 units had to remain out of the building until its fire alarm system was restored several hours later. The adjacent Village Green Community Center kept its doors open as a refuge for the temporarily displaced building occupants.

North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were initially dispatched to an automatic fire alarm activation at 1:57 p.m. on Thursday. At about the same time, a caller from inside the building reported hearing a unit’s smoke alarms activating. She’d been alerted by her dog, Toffee, and found the problem upon investigating. With that additional information, Kitsap 9-1-1 dispatchers upgraded the call to a full commercial structure fire response. Units sped to the scene from across NKF&R’s district, Poulsbo and Silverdale. The first units arrived from NKF&R’s Miller Bay Road station within seven minutes of dispatch, and had the fire under control within another seven minutes. Resources not already on scene were returned to their stations.

The small apartment’s bedroom, where the fire was, suffered the most fire damage. Heat and heavy smoke affected the rest of the unit, displacing its occupant — an adult male. He wasn’t in the unit when the first broke out. Smoke also impacted the common areas of the building’s basement, first and second floors. With the exception of one apartment affected by water, the other apartments remained free of damage behind closed doors.

Firefighters load supply hose after snuffing a fire in a unit at Village Green Senior Apartments Thursday afternoon.

The 3-1/2 story complex is home to seniors and the disabled. In addition to fire alarms, the building is equipped with an automatic fire sprinkler system. However, the sprinklers have been out of service since the system was damaged during the recent extreme cold weather. Had that system been functioning, the fire would likely have been snuffed more rapidly and caused far less damage. Contractors are on the scene today, attempting to repair and restore this vital element in the building occupants’ safety.

An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene. Based on witness statements and evidence at the scene, she believes that the fire started when a vape pen that had been placed on a bed while charging, apparently overheated to spark the flames. Officials caution against placing charging devices — phones, computers, power banks, vape pens, etc. — on soft and combustible surfaces to avoid fires resulting from malfunctioning batteries and/or over insulation. In February 2020, a sleeping shed near Kingston was destroyed by flames after a charging cell phone on a bed caused that fire.

The fire apartment’s occupant is staying with family and may also receive assistance from the American Red Cross. The other displaced resident is staying at a Poulsbo motel, hosted by NKF&R firefighters and the Village Green Senior Apartments’ building operators. The complex is insured.


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