An expiring FEMA SAFER Grant, budget cuts and ambulance transport issues are keeping DuPont’s Fire Chief on his toes and on the run, looking for volunteers.
“I’m going to give you all I can for as long as I can. When I can’t handle it anymore, I’ll stop and you will need to find a new fire chief,” Greg Hull told council members during the Feb. 12 DuPont City Council meeting.
In what he called “the state of the fire department” report , Chief Hull informed the council that in January, the department lost one of their SAFER Grant firefighters to the Federal Way Fire Department. In addition, two more DuPont firefighters have been given conditional employment offers by the Lacey Fire Department, which recently was awarded a SAFER Grant for twelve firefighter positions for 2013.
“In order to meet our SAFER Grant requirements as ordered by FEMA, temporary firefighters are being hired for the remainder of DuPont’s SAFER Grant,” explained Chief Hull.
Not only has the Lacey Fire Department received a SAFER Grant for 2013, so has Central Pierce Fire & Rescue.
“Central Pierce announced recently that they will target firefighters who have been or will be laid off, and they will give second priority to lateral entry firefighters. At this point we do not know what affect this will have on our work force,” said Hull.
Getting an outside ambulance to respond to DuPont isn’t getting any easier, either.
“West Pierce Fire and Rescue was removed from our run card in January for ambulance transport services. Madigan Army Hospital removed themselves from our run card last week. So now, only American Medical Response (AMR) and Rural Metro are the only two responders on our run card. Needless to say, we’re in a pretty tight situation,” said Hull.
The chief has started the Volunteer EMT/BLS Program. Hull said the program would allow DuPont to perform BLS transport and keep Engine 25 in service for suppression calls or additional aid calls as long as there were three career firefighters on duty. The crew of four would be split, two on the engine and two on the aid unit.
Hull said it will take a minimum of 10 volunteer EMT’s to fill the thirty days of each month, and that the success of the program will be dependent on the number of viable volunteers.
“The Volunteer EMT Program will assist in some degree with the BLS transport issues we are facing. The problems we are experiencing with ALS transport will not improve with this program.”
He hoped to have six volunteers signed up by the end of February – if they were lucky.
Councilwoman Penny Coffey asked Chief Hull if Madigan was not going to respond to residents at Patriot’s Landing, who are largely retired military.
“Madigan’s first response is on base. They are struggling with some of the same issues that we are facing,” responded Hull.
The fire chief reported that the transition of DuPont Fire’s internet technology from West Pierce Fire and Rescue was complete, and for the most part all programs are up and running. DuPont’s fire marshal services were transitioned over to Fire Marshal Mike Turner, who is keeping busy with development at Creekside Village and the Amazon facility. Last but not least, Chief Hull has assumed all duties and responsibilities that DuPont’s former operations chief was handling. The operations chief position was eliminated in the 2013 budget.
“I’ve been working for six weeks like this. I can tell you it is not the way to run public safety,” commented Hull.