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Category Archives: Recent News

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Four Firefighter Jobs on Chopping Block to Keep S.E. Thurston in Black

By Megan Hansen
Nisqually Valley News

With four firefighter positions on the chopping block, Southeast Thurston Fire Authority is seeking different ways to breathe life back into its budget.

Four layoff notices were handed out last month. These are the same notices given last fall.

The department is hoping to retain those jobs through a federal grant program.

The department has applied for Staffing For Adequate and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants.

The grant covers a firefighter position 100 percent, including benefits for two years.

Firefighters with layoff notices are a higher priority to receive funding, said Mark King, interim chief for Southeast Thurston. There is a better chance of securing funding by giving the notices.

SAFER grants will start being awarded in March and the firefighters’ layoff notices go into affect April 30.

Tax collection is also a big factor on keeping those positions.

King said the department is waiting to see the first quarter tax collection rate.

If SAFER grants aren’t secured and tax collection rates decrease, positions will have to be cut.

If layoffs happen, the department could find itself with more work and cost dealing with unions.

“Laying off is the absolute last thing we want to do,” King said. “The legal costs could outweigh the savings.”

It would also affect the department’s ability to staff the Rainier Fire Station.

“(But) I don’t know to what extent yet.”

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Drop in property values means lean 2010 for SE Thurston Fire and EMS

By Megan Hansen

Things are going to be tight for Southeast Thurston Fire and EMS during its 2010 fiscal year.

Revenue for the fire department is estimated to be $180,000 to $210,000 less this year.

Property values are going down, said Chief Rita Hutcheson.

Expenditures that will be cut include public education and conferences.
“We knew this year was going to be challenging,” Hutcheson said. “Our priorities are people and fire trucks.”

The budget, however, will accommodate an additional firefighter.
Adding another position will balance the overtime budget and ultimately cost the department less, Hutcheson said.

She is in the process of reviewing applications on file and anticipates hiring someone in February.

While the department is having to tighten its purse strings, additional revenue donated by JZ Knight will be used to cover some cut items.
Knight pledged to donate $100,000 to the department over the next year.

Hutcheson set up a separate account to hold those funds.

She said she would rather use the money for more tangible things than just floating the budget.

With Knight’s first donation of $10,000, Hutcheson ordered more than 500 smoke detectors, which will be given to homes that need them.

There shouldn’t be a home without one now, Hutcheson said. “I hope people will ask.”

Some of the donated money will also be used to cover public education costs that are being cut from the budget.

“It’s helping immensely,” Hutcheson said. “It’s allowing us to still do the things in the community.”

Anyone who needs a smoke detector can get one at the Yelm Fire Station, 709 Mill Road.

Nisqually Valley News
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You Can Reduce Kids’ Fire Risks

By Rita Hutchinson

kid-fire-safety_smallEvery year fire kills more children than any other home accident. Children playing with fire are a common cause of fire in the home. It is important to share these basic rules for fire safety with your children:

  • Don’t climb on or reach over the stove for something. Children should stay away from the stove area when it is cooking time.
  • Don’t play with matches or lighters. All matches and lighters should be stored up high and out of children’s reach.
  • Don’t play with electrical wires or outlets. Keep appliances and other electrical equipment out of reach. Keep unused outlets covered. This is especially important for very young children.
  • Don’t get close to an open fire. Always supervise outdoor fires or fire in the fireplace, and keep lighted candles away from children.
  • Here are some other pointers:
  • Teach your child what hot is by letting them touch something hot — but not hot enough to burn them. Then the word “hot” will have meaning for them.
  • Teach your child how to call for help if he/she sees fire or smoke in the house. Teach them how to get out of the house. Have a plan and practice the plan regularly. Check your smoke detectors.
  • Teach your child the difference between a good fire (like a supervised campfire) and a bad fire (like a fire in a trash can or a building). Teach them how fires start and how fast a very small fire can become a large fire.

Other Fire Department News:
Effective Aug. 17, the Rainier Station, located at 12506 133rd Ave., in Rainier, became our second staffed fire station. The fire station located at Lawrence Lake remains open and will accommodate volunteer responders when they are available.

Our goal is to continue to improve emergency service to all of our citizens.

The 2009 S.E. Thurston Fire Recruit Academy begins Saturday, Aug. 29.

We have seven new volunteers in this class. They will attend class two evenings a week with three weekends for practical skills. Recruits are expected to attend all classes and skills weekends. They are also expected to attain an 80 percent or better on all written tests.

At the end of the Recruit Academy, they will participate in the Firefighter I Certification test. Graduation for successful recruits is being planned for early December.

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