January 21, 2022
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
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
(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.
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.
November 30, 2021
(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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
(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
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.
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.
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
(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.
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 leaders. He 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 2009, promoted 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 player was 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 chief, taking 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 skills. Finding 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
(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.”
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.
December 8, 2020
Team effort beats odds to rescue man from Puget Sound
(KINGSTON, Wash.) — A 24 year-old was rescued successfully despite long odds after spending as long as 30 minutes in Puget Sound’s frigid waters when he fell overboard from a sailboat near here last evening — thanks to the response of other boaters, including a Washington State Ferry crew. The Vancouver, Washington man was not wearing a life-jacket and rescuers say he is lucky to have escaped more dire consequences.
At 3:25 p.m. Monday, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to a location off of Apple Tree Point, about a mile northeast of the Kingston Ferry Terminal and almost mid-channel, where a boat was disabled with one of its occupants in the water, according to a radio report to the U.S. Coast Guard. Firefighters sped to the Port of Kingston Marina to get NKF&R’s fire-rescue boat underway, and Marine 81 was on its way to assist within 8 minutes of dispatch.
Peter Horsman, the operator of the 23-foot motor vessel Moondance, was on his way from his home port at Seattle’s Queen City Yacht Club to Edmonds when he heard the distress call, and set a course toward the sailboat’s position. Horsman established a search pattern in an effort to find the man. Darkness began to fall and sea conditions worsened; he later told officials that he was ready to give up after 20 – 30 minutes of searching when he spotted the man in the water. Horsman brought him aboard and started to help him get warm. The small boat from the ferry Walla Walla, which had diverted from the Edmonds-Kingston route to assist, came alongside and offered to take the man to the ferry where medical equipment was available. The man was passed to that crew and, after the small boat returned, the ferry headed into the Kingston Ferry Terminal. An off-duty firefighter/paramedic from Clallam County Fire District #3 (Sequim) also helped, having answered the ferry crew’s call when they asked for medical personnel. An NKF&R paramedic unit provided care to the man when the boat arrived in Kingston. He ultimately declined ambulance transport, opting instead to meet his brother in Edmonds where the boat was being towed. Firefighters got the man dry clothes and a meal while making sure he had a warm place to wait for the ferry across.
Officials are calling the man lucky, noting that it’s remarkable to make a successful rescue under these conditions. The chilly waters can hamper the abilities of even the strongest swimmers in as little as 15 minutes and, absent a life jacket, it can be difficult to remain afloat and visible. Puget Sound’s vast area, the approach of nightfall and rough waters further decreased the chances for a good outcome.
The pair had been taking the 22-foot sailboat from Blaine to Edmonds and were headed for a stop in Kingston when the mishap occurred. The brother who remained aboard the boat was unable to make a rescue due in part to the afternoon’s windy conditions but his radio report spurred firefighters’ response as well as that of other boats in the area including the Moondance. As the incident illustrates, it takes a team effort to make a difference — especially when circumstances make the odds long.
November 21, 2020
Firefighters free man trapped under rolled tractor
(KINGSTON, Wash.) — A Kingston man appears to have escaped serious injury after becoming entrapped under a 2,500-pound tractor when it rolled over onto him near here today. Firefighters used a variety of rescue tools to rapidly free the man, and believe that he may have been protected by the thick vegetation that filled the roadside ditch where the man and the tractor landed.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to Leyman Lane at 11:46 a.m. on Saturday after the man used his cell phone to call 9-1-1. The first unit arrived on scene within four minutes and crews had freed the man just ten minutes after that. The same conditions that cushioned the man complicated the rescue; working in the vegetation-filled ditch six feet below the road surface, firefighters used ratchet
straps secured to the fire engine to stabilize the tractor and gradually raised it off the man using a specialized jack, slipping step chocks underneath as space was created.
Once freed, the man declined medical treatment or transport. He told crews that he’s been operating the tractor along the side of the roadway when the shoulder gave way, causing the mishap.
November 9, 2020
Damage limited in Hansville attic fire
(HANSVILLE, Wash.) — Early detection and a fast fire department response kept a chimney-sparked attic fire from causing much more serious damage here this morning.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were initially dispatched to a possible chimney fire at a home on Twin Spits Road at 7:50 a.m. Monday. Based on additional information provided as crews sped to the scene, the incident was upgraded to a structure fire and more units from Poulsbo Fire Department as well as from NKF&R were called to the scene. The first crew arrived in just over 5 minutes. Light smoke was coming from the eaves and the home was evacuated. Twin Spits Road was blocked by fire engines as well as by hose lines as crews tied into a nearby hydrant. Firefighters were able to make access to the attic and snuff the incipient fire quickly, using less than five gallons of water. Other crews still en route to the scene were returned to their stations.
It appeared that several cracks in a pellet stove’s chimney pipe had allowed superheated air to reduce the ignition temperature of wooden structural members nearby in the attic. These items were just starting to burn when the problem was detected; the ensuing fire’s damage was likely limited because the occupants were home, noticed smoke coming from the house’s eaves and got firefighters on their way with an early 9-1-1 call.
Officials recommend that all chimneys be swept and inspected annually by certified professionals who have the equipment to detect dangerous defects before a problem arises.
There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians, and Twin Spits Road reopened to traffic after about an hour.
November 9, 2020
Brush fire scorches an acre near Kingston
(KINGSTON, Wash.) — About an acre of vegetation was scorched but no structures were damaged in a brush fire on the Port Gamble S’Klallam Reservation on Sunday evening. Fire officials say the blaze likely resulted from an outdoor burn pile near an adjacent home.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to a Boston Lane address at 4:38 p.m. after a neighbor called to report a possible fire in the woods. The first units arrived to find flames of 3 – 4 feet and spreading at a moderate pace in a ravine. High winds were fanning the fire and carrying embers. While one crew pulled 500 feet of hose into the gully to begin extinguishing the fire from its north side, another crew tied into the nearest hydrant about 400 feet away. Others pulled 500 feet of hose to attack the blaze from its south side. Two hours and an estimated 15,000 gallons later, the fire was extinguished.
The homeowner told fire officials that he’d been burning a stump and other natural vegetation earlier in the week, and fully extinguished the fire on Thursday. Since that time, he’d smelled smoke in the area and had searched for its source multiple times without ever finding flames or embers. Though firefighters were unable to pinpoint the fire’s cause but evidence at the scene and the homeowner’s statements suggest that it may have been sparked when fire spread underground into the ravine through the root system of a stump that was part of last week’s burn pile.
The fire came within about 100 feet of structures. Officials note that the outcome could have been much worse had the blaze broken out before this fall’s rains.
Despite darkness and uneven terrain, there were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
September 30, 2020
We have an update to the September 27 story about the heat lamp fire; NKF&R officials learned today that the chicks did survive the fire. Good news!
September 27, 2020
Another heat-lamp fire sparks warning from fire officials
No injuries to firefighters or civilians, but 25 baby chicks perish
(Between KINGSTON and SUQUAMISH, Wash.) — Damage from the latest in a string of heat-lamp-related fires in Kitsap County was minimal because it was discovered and squelched quickly, but similar incidents have been far more destructive. Officials urge care with these and all heat-generating appliances.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and others were dispatched to the possible house fire on Indianola Road near its intersection with Miller Bay Road just after 10 p.m. on Thursday after a family member who happened to be outside noticed flames and alerted others. They evacuated, called 9-1-1 and successfully knocked down the fire using water and fire extinguishers. Fire crews arrived to find the fire mostly out; they finished snuffing hot spots and ventilated the home. Damage was limited to a small portion of the home’s exterior with light smoke affecting the interior.
The family told crews that the heat lamp they’d been using to keep 25 chicks warm appeared to have fallen into and ignited the chicks’ nesting material. NKF&R crews have responded to at least four similar events in recent years (see the district’s press releases dated 6/24/16, 6/16/18, 9/9/18 and 2/18/20) while other county fire districts have responded to several more in the same time period (see this 2019 story in the Kitsap Sun).
Officials suggest keeping chicks warm with safer alternatives such as hot water bottles. If heat lamps are used, the fire risk can be reduced by following the manufacturer’s directions, avoiding the use of extension cords/plugging the appliance directly into a fixed outlet, ensuring the appliance is secure to prevent tipping or falling and well clear of combustible materials.
September 25, 2020
Kitsap County outdoor burn bans lifted
Return of wet fall weather eases fire danger
(PORT ORCHARD, Wash.) –The Kitsap County Fire Marshal announced this morning that, effective immediately and due to the return to fall weather patterns, the summer’s outdoor burn bans have been lifted.
As of Friday, September 25, 2020 all outdoor burning may resume subject to the normal rules and regulations. Land clearing burning is still prohibited throughout the county and burning permits are required for general outdoor burning. Permits are available free of charge through local fire districts’ websites. Recreational burning (fires of less than 3’x3’x2′ in a designated pit and containing only seasoned firewood or charcoal) may be conducted without permits.
A Stage 1 Outdoor Burn Ban was implemented on July 30 due to rising fire danger and the risk posed by outdoor burning. Between 80 – 90% of all wildfires are human-caused and escaped outdoor fires are the leading source. The ban was elevated to Stage 2 on September 8 due to worsening conditions that included stretched firefighting resources as wind-driven fires broke out across the state. “The return of fall rains has decreased fire danger enough to allow outdoor burning again,” says Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam. He adds his appreciation for everyone’s patience as officials waited for moisture levels to be restored to the region’s parched landscape. Until earlier this week, less than an inch of rain had fallen since the end of June. “I know there has been rain, but it has taken some time for the moisture to soak in.”
Despite the improvement in fire danger, Lynam urges the public to exercise caution when burning and to consider the impact of smoke on neighbors. Find links to local fire districts and the outdoor burning rules on the fire marshal’s web page.
September 9, 2020
NKF&R Hosts Virtual 9/11 Remembrance
Firefighters overcome obstacles to continue 18-year tradition
(KINGSTON, Wash.) — Their usual plans nixed by the pandemic, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) firefighters and staff have found a way to continue their long-standing practice of marking the solemn anniversary by gathering community for a good cause in the names of those lost in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, in-person attendance is limited to NKF&R personnel and this year’s event won’t include the traditional breakfast. Instead, the community is invited to gather virtually for a brief ceremony via Facebook LIVE beginning at 7 a.m. Assistant Chief Rick LaGrandeur will offer short remarks before the on-duty crew raises and, then, lowers the station flag to half-staff. Viewers will be invited to join firefighters in a moment of silence for the September 11 victims. This year, firefighters have chosen to honor Boys & Girls Club of North Kitsap (BGCNK) for their invaluable service to the community’s families during the pandemic. LaGrandeur will welcome BGCNK Director Chelsea Tate and present her with a donation from NKF&R’s firefighters, staff, volunteers and commissioners. The public will be invited to support the club, too.
In 2003, NKF&R began hosting the public for breakfast every September 11. Using a fund supported primarily by gifts from members, firefighters have provided free breakfast to the community while accepting donations for the charity chosen as that year’s beneficiary. Past charities have included the American Red Cross, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Kitsap Humane Society, Kitsap Mental Health Services, Kingston High School ASB, Kingston Cooperative Preschool, Village Green Foundation, Coffee Oasis, North Kitsap Schools Foundation, YWCA Alive Shelter, and Tuesday’s Children/Snowball Express.
To join in the event, go to www.facebook.com/nkfire. To join firefighters in supporting the local club, send a donation to the club at 26159 Dulay Rd NE in Kingston, WA 98346. Be sure to note “North Kitsap” on the check’s memo line.
September 8, 2020
(KITSAP COUNTY, Wash.) — Due to rising fire danger and stretched resources, the Kitsap County Fire Marshal is expanding the current burn ban to prohibit all outdoor fires, effective immediately and until further notice.
The move is prompted by several factors. Hot and dry weather has made conditions ripe for ignition and fast fire spread, and forecasts predict more of the same. Multiple local brush fires broke out over the weekend, underscoring the danger. Large fires in progress across the state have depleted all but local firefighting resources. “Escaped outdoor fires are a leading cause of wildland fires,” notes Kitsap County Fire Marshal David Lynam. “Given these circumstances, the best way to prevent a big incident in our county right now is by preventing it from starting in the first place.”
Under a Stage II Fire Danger Burn Ban, no open burning is allowed. All outdoor burning permits remain suspended, recreational fires are prohibited, and only propane or natural gas-fueled cooking fires are allowed.
While outdoor fires are to blame for many dangerous brush fires, there are other causes as well and Lynam says, “The situation is serious, and we really need everyone’s help limiting all ignition sources.” Dispose of smoking materials properly. Secure trailer chains to prevent sparks. Practice fire-safe target shooting (where target shooting is allowed). Defer mowing until conditions improve.
To check on the current status of the outdoor burn ban, contact the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office at (360)337-5777 or your local fire district.
April 28, 2020
DAMAGED BATTERY SPARKS GARAGE FIRE
(SUQUAMISH, Wash.) — When a damaged battery on a charger apparently sparked a fire here Sunday afternoon, a detached garage and most of its contents were saved thanks to a working smoke alarm, alert neighbors and firefighters’ fast response.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R), Poulsbo Fire Department and Bainbridge Island Fire Department crews were dispatched to a possible house fire at an Angeline Avenue address just after 3 p.m. The first unit, from NKF&R’s Suquamish station, was on scene in just over four minutes. They found light smoke coming from the single-car garage and a smoke alarm sounding. Making entry through the structure’s mandoor, they were able to quickly extinguish the growing fire — but not before the blaze had destroyed most of the shelving and materials in the small garage’s southeast corner. Having snuffed the flames, crews returned most of the units to their stations while several other firefighters remained on scene to ensure the fire was completely out.
The homeowner told crews that the battery had fallen into Puget Sound and, after retrieving it, he attempted to restore its charge. He’d been inside his adjacent home when neighbors, having heard an activated alarm in the garage, knocked on his door to inform him of the problem. The homeowner called 911 to get fire crews on their way.
There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
April 21, 2020
SHED SINGED, HOUSE SAVED IN BOILER STACK FIRE
(KINGSTON, Wash.) — A small outbuilding was seriously damaged when a boiler’s compromised smokestack allowed hot gases to ignite the structure but the occupants’ quick actions and the fire department response kept the blaze from spreading to adjacent buildings.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department (PFD) crews were called to a home off of Kingston View Court, about 2 miles NNW of Kingston at 4:11 p.m. on Monday after a resident at the home found smoke and flames coming from the 10′ x 12′ shed and called 911 to report the blaze. Family members used five fire extinguishers and a garden hose to hold the flames in check while firefighters made their way to the scene. The first crew arrived in just over 8 minutes, and reported fire coming from the small building. Firefighters were able to quickly snuff the flames and, assured that the fire wasn’t spreading to other nearby structures, returned the units not yet on scene to their stations.
An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the incident. Based on witness statements and evidence at the scene, the investigator believes that the fire was accidental and sparked by a flaw in a boiler’s exhaust stack. Housed inside the wooden shed and used to heat water that supplies heat to the adjacent large residence, the thermostat-controlled boiler had been idle for a period of time before working since starting up again that morning. The investigator found a hole in the pipe that likely allowed heat to escape, eventually lowering the ignition temperature of surrounding materials in a process called pyrolysis.
Officials recommend that all chimneys and stacks be cleaned and examined by certified chimney sweeps at least once a year. Such inspections are key to preventing these types of fires.
The family is insured. Although a small amount of smoke made its way into the main home through the conduit that carried the pipes of heated water in from the boiler, there was no significant damage to the residences and the family was not displaced.
There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
April 8, 2020
THREE RESCUED FROM GROUNDED VESSEL OFF OF KINGSTON
(KINGSTON, Wash.) — Firefighters rescued three adults from their foundering 65′ vessel off of President Point, about 4 miles south of here early this morning.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department (PFD) crews were dispatched at 5:17 a.m. Wednesday after the U.S. Coast Guard received a distress call from the vessel Kathleen, reporting that the boat was aground and taking on water. Upon receiving additional information indicating that the vessel’s occupants weren’t in immediate danger, officials reduced the size of the response and returned PFD crews to their stations. One NKF&R crew got underway from Port of Kingston in the district’s fire-rescue boat, Marine 81, while others headed to a land-based vantage point. A fishing vessel located the distressed boat first but, due to shallow waters in the area, was unable to provide direct assistance. For the same reasons, Marine 81 couldn’t get to the Kathleen so her crew deployed a life raft and climbed aboard. Marine 81’s crew got a line to the raft and pulled it in, bringing the Kathleen’s three occupants onto the fire-rescue boat for the trip back to Kingston.
The boat’s owner and operator told firefighters that he likely he fell asleep while underway from Gig Harbor and was awakened only when the bilge alarm sounded as the grounded and listing vessel began taking on water.
High tide in the area was at about 5:30 a.m.
Upon their departure, NKF&R crews noted no evidence of leaking or spilling fuel but, as a precaution, have turned the incident over to the U.S. Coast Guard and Washington State Department of Ecology.
For video, click here. There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians.
April 3, 2020
FIRE DISPLACES COUPLE FROM LIVEABOARD SAILBOAT
Combustibles too close to heat source thought to be cause
(KINGSTON, Wash.) — A small fire, thought to have been started when a diesel heater sparked nearby combustibles, displaced a couple and their pets from their 40′ liveaboard sailboat at Port of Kingston Marina here this evening. While there were no injuries to firefighters or civilians, the family cat was hurt. A small dog apparently escaped without harm.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) and Poulsbo Fire Department crews were called to the moorage facility’s guest dock just before 5 p.m. Friday after a bystander called Kitsap 911 to report a possible marina fire. The first units arrived on scene in just over five minutes, and found only light smoke. The bystander met them to report that the boat owner had squelched the flames with a nearby garden hose before leaving to rush his injured cat to a vet. NKF&R’s fire-rescue boat, Marine 81, also responded to the incident. Upon determining that the fire was out, crews canceled units still en route from Poulsbo. Firefighters finished extinguishing remaining hot spots and removed as much smoke as possible from the cabin.
The boat owner later returned, telling officials that he’d lit the boat’s heater and went ashore to use the marina’s restrooms. When he returned, he found smoke and flames. It appeared that clothing was ignited by the hot appliance and spread to involve other nearby combustibles. The fire caused significant interior damage but the vessel’s hull was not affected.
Even in small spaces like boat cabins, firefighters recommend keeping combustibles well clear of heat sources.
The American Red Cross is assisting the couple who is thought to have been uninsured.
March 30, 2020
HELP YOUR FIRST RESPONDERS FIGHT COVID-19 THROUGH SELF-REPORTING IN COMMUNITY CONNECT
Bremerton Fire Department, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Poulsbo Fire Department and South Kitsap Fire & Rescue all participating in the program
(KITSAP COUNTY, Wash.) — We will always respond when you need us. With COVID-19 cases present in our community, there’s a new opportunity for you to help your first responders stay safe when responding to your home. Community Connect bridges the information gap before 9-1-1 is called, allowing you to share specific information about your household so that we may better serve you during an emergency.
Now, there’s a special section for COVID-19. By answering a few questions regarding the health of members in your household, our crews will know what precautions they need to take when responding while also gaining visibility into how this health crisis is affecting our community as a whole. This information remains private and is only accessible when responding specifically to your address.
To begin, just visit Community Connect and enter your address. The program will make sure you’re directed to the correct fire department that serves your location.
You may already be familiar with Community Connect if you have already completed your home’s profile or even if you’ve applied for a burn permit online. If so, the same login will give you access to fill out different sections such as pet information, functional needs in the household, where the gas and water shutoffs are located, and more. If not, everyone nationwide now has access to self-report their COVID-19 related information in addition to the Community Connect instances already up and running in some districts such as Kitsap County, many departments in Pierce County, Lacey, and Eastside.
Community Connect comes to you after more than a year of collaborative work between Kitsap County’s public safety agencies and First Due, a provider of cutting edge technology for our first responders and builders of Community Connect programs around the country.
So please, take a few minutes to visit Community Connect to #selfreport. Beating COVID-19 will take everyone’s help, and your first responders are already thankful for yours.
February 26, 2020
NKF&R SEEKING CANDIDATES FOR WELL-RESPECTED FIREFIGHTER TRAINING PROGRAM
March 4 demonstration to showcase program that’s helped more than 180 alumni get hired into the industry
(KINGSTON, Wash.) – North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) is accepting applications for its highly-regarded and effective Volunteer-Intern Firefighter Training Program through March 27. To help inspire potential candidates, the district is hosting a demonstration of firefighting and emergency medical skills on Wednesday, March 4 from 2 – 3 p.m. at the district’s headquarters fire station (26642 Miller Bay Road NE).
The event, which is open to the public, will include the opportunity to observe on-duty crews conducting a typical firefighting training exercise. Next, firefighters will simulate the resuscitation of a cardiac arrest victim. Senior staff members will be on-hand to explain the activities during the drills and available afterward to answer questions.
Program participants receive training, education and certifications that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars. They also receive reimbursement for food and emergency responses while serving on shift. In exchange, they provide volunteer service to the community and gain real-life experience serving alongside the district’s veteran paid personnel. These valuable assets help participants gain an edge over others in the highly-competitive fire service job market — as demonstrated by the many program graduates working in the field.
Graduates of the program, which started in 1987, are working in all of Kitsap County’s fire agencies as well as at Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma, Everett, Kirkland, Redmond, Eastside Fire and Rescue, Lacey, Tukwila, West Pierce, South Snohomish, Snohomish County Fire District #7, South King, Puget Sound Fire Authority, Valley Regional Fire Authority, Port Ludlow, East Jefferson, Port Angeles, Pasco, Richland, Portland and beyond.
To apply to the program, candidates must include a valid CPAT (Candidate Physical Ability Test) card along with their application, due March 27. The test is available in the region through at least two independent testing companies: Public Safety Testing and National Testing Network. Candidates must also possess a valid driver’s license and a high school diploma or GED certificate. Applicants meeting the minimum requirements will participate in a written test of general knowledge on Saturday, April 4; those passing the written exam will be interviewed by a panel of veteran firefighters on Sunday, April 5.
For more information, see the district’s web site at www.nkfr.org or call (360)297-3619.
HEAT LAMP SPARKS FIRE, SMOKE ALARMS SAVE OCCUPANT
Baby chicks perish but closed doors and fast fire department response limits damage to home
(INDIANOLA, Wash.) — Working smoke alarms are being credited with saving a home’s occupant but several baby chicks died and the house’s interior sustained significant damage in a fire that appears to have started when a heat lamp’s clip failed, dropping the hot light into a box of combustibles here on Monday evening.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R), Poulsbo Fire Department and Bainbridge Island Fire Department crews were dispatched to the residence on Loughrey Avenue at 9:42 p.m. on Monday after a woman inside called 911 to report being awakened by activated smoke alarms and finding flames in her home’s living room. She also told call receivers at Kitsap 9-1-1 that she might not be able to get out as the fire was between her and the home’s exits. The first personnel, coming from NKF&R’s headquarters station, were on scene in less than seven minutes; they found the woman safely outside.
Firefighters were able to contain the fire quickly. They say the flames were easily snuffed because the blaze’s spread was held in check by the door, closed behind the woman as she exited and depriving the flames of the airflow needed to grow.
An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the incident. Witness statements and evidence at the scene point to the home’s living room as the area of the fire’s origin and a heat lamp in use to keep baby chicks warm there as the likely ignition source. The investigator, Deputy Fire Marshal Ken Rice, said that the incident’s outcome would almost certainly have been tragic without working smoke alarms; according to the National Fire Protection Association, the chances of surviving a home fire are doubled when working smoke alarms are present. NKF&R firefighters will provide smoke alarms free of charge upon request. Call (360)297-3619 to schedule an installation. Firefighters also recommend making and practicing fire escape plans that include at least two different ways out of every room and one meeting place outside.
In 2018, a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy saved a Port Orchard family of seven from a fire that is thought to have been sparked by a heat lamp in use to keep chicks warm. That same year, NKF&R firefighters responded to at least two similar and significant fires caused by heat lamps. Because these types of fires have become increasingly common around the county, officials encourage chicken-keepers to use other means (hot water bottles, bringing the brood box into a warmer space, etc) to keep the young birds warm. If heat lamps must be used, officials recommend carefully following the manufacturer’s directions for securing the devices and ensuring clearance between the lamp(s) and combustible materials such as shavings or the boxes themselves.
The woman was transported to a local hospital as a precaution, and released shortly thereafter. While fire damage was mostly limited to the room where the fire began, heavy smoke and water damage has affected most of the 1,900 SF structure. As of last evening, one of the family’s two cats had been located and was apparently uninjured. The other, a large white male with golden eyes and named “King,” had not been found. Two of seven baby chicks were recovered alive, and transported to an emergency vet clinic.
The woman’s husband was not at home at the time of the fire. There were no other injuries to firefighters or civilians and the family is insured.
Teen’s possessions and pets lost in the blaze
(KINGSTON, Wash.) – Two pet reptiles perished and most of a teen’s possessions were destroyed when a cell phone charging cord, left plugged in and on a bed, apparently sparked a fire in his sleeping cabin here on Wednesday morning.
North Kitsap Fire & Rescue (NKF&R) crews were called to a reported shed fire off of Timber Lane at 10:43 a.m. The first crews arrived on scene less than seven minutes after dispatch and found the 12’ x 12’ structure fully-involved in flames. They had the fire under control in minutes, containing it to the shed and preventing its spread to adjacent vehicles.
The 16 year-old occupant of the cabin told crews that about 15 minute prior to discovering the fire, he’d left the cabin to go into the main home for a shower. When he returned, he found black smoke coming from the wood structure and, after a brief attempt at extinguishing the blaze, called 9-1-1 to report the fire.
An investigator from the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s Office responded to the scene. Based on witness statements and physical evidence at the scene, she believes that the fire likely started with a cell phone charging cord that had been left on the cabin’s bed and plugged into an extension cord.
The charging cord may have been damaged prior to the fire. Firefighters stress the importance of ensuring that cords are in good condition, noting that use of damaged cords increases fire risk. Officials also caution against leaving any electronic equipment – cell phones, tablets, laptops or their charging cords – on a bed or other soft surface; doing so increases risk of fire because the soft surfaces prevent heat from dissipating and provide readily-combustible fuel to feed flames. In a Facebook post, the teen’s father wrote, “Almost all the teens I know have had their phone charging on their bed at some point – don’t do it! If this had happened an hour or two earlier while he was sleeping, things could have been much worse.”
There were no injuries to firefighters or civilians in the incident.