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Category Archives: Recent News

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TwinStar Credit Union Stuffs the Fire Truck!

S.E. Thurston Fire Authority receives a generous donation of teddy bears and stuffed animals from TwinStar Credit Union in Yelm. Pictured Left to Right: (Front Row) Kathie Schleis, Rainier/Yelm Fire Department Auxillary, Carol Sandland, Member Service Representative, Janna Niesen, Member Service Representative, Ashley Brazell, Member Service Representative. (Fire Truck Windows) Santa and Kris Kvinsland, Yelm Branch Manager.

S.E. Thurston Fire Authority receives a generous donation of teddy bears and stuffed animals from TwinStar Credit Union in Yelm. Pictured Left to Right: (Front Row) Kathie Schleis, Rainier/Yelm Fire Department Auxillary, Carol Sandland, Member Service Representative, Janna Niesen, Member Service Representative, Ashley Brazell, Member Service Representative. (Fire Truck Windows) Santa and Kris Kvinsland, Yelm Branch Manager.

Yelm’s TwinStar Credit Union gave back to the community by donating teddy bears and other stuffed animals to S.E. Thurston Fire Authority’s “Stuff the Fire Truck” toy drive. These plush toys will be given out throughout the holiday season to put a smile on children’s faces. These toys will also be used to comfort children who are involved in emergency situations.

Community Works Together

photo 2By Ernest Lincoln

Kylene Ballenger is 22 years old and has been battling a rare type of brain cancer called Ganglioglioma for the last 8 years. The cancer and treatments have made it a challenge to leave her home, forcing Kylene to crawl on her hands and knees to the door, sit down on the steps, and then slide down each step. Then her mother, Sandy, would have to help her back up. Kylene needed a wheelchair and a ramp so that she could safely leave her home.

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No Wage or COLA Increase Local #23

By Kris Kruse

Over the past 18 months, OPEIU Local 23 and S.E. Thurston Fire Authority have worked together to address the departments declining revenue.

To do our part, members of OPEIU Local 23 have chosen to forgo our Cost of Living Adjustment and wage increase for 2012 and 2013. (In addition, due to budget cuts, OPEIU Local 23 has lost 2 positions within the department).

It is OPEIU Local 23’s goal to continue to work with S.E. Thurston Fire Authority during these challenging financial conditions.

Union Forgoes COLA & Wage Increase

By President Dean Bastin

During these difficult financial times, the Local and the Department have had to work closely together to continue providing the best service we can to our citizens, and be as safe as possible. To do our part members of IAFF Local 3628 have chosen to forgo our Cost of Living Adjustment and wage increase for both 2012 and 2013, saving the department close to $100,000 dollars. In addition to the money savings, we also worked with the Department and Commissioners on a SAFER grant that we were awarded in July of 2012. This grant secured funding from the federal government allowing us to keep all 19 of our current career firefighters through July 2014.

We have also agreed to drop from mandatory 3 person engine companies, which is the industry safety standard, to allow 2 person engine companies. Doing this has enabled Station 24 (the station covering Rainier) to be open a majority of the time throughout the year. The Local, Commissioners, and the Chief all agree that this is not ideal, but a temporary sacrifice that is necessary to continue the best service.

Individual members of the Union have also taken up various duties around the stations and working with equipment that was once done by other staff that have been lost through budget cuts. It is IAFF Local 3628’s goal to work with the Department and continue to provide the best service possible to the Citizens we serve.

Life Jacket Loaner Program for Kids

S.E. Thurston Fire Authority Team Up With Washington State Park and Recreation Commission

thurston_lawrenceStay on Top of It, a drowning prevention campaign developed by Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle, Washington has a particular focus on increasing life jacket use (also known as personal flotation devices or PFDs).

Being near the water poses a risk of drowning for children. S.E. Thurston Fire Authority, Lawrence Lake Association, Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission and the United State Coast Guard teamed up to provide boat and swim safety practice at Lawrence Lake West; S.E. Thurston Fire Authority applied for the grant. Thank you for a job well done Captain Don Wilson, Career Firefighters/EMT’s Lieutenant Ann Holeman, Dean Bastin, Curtis Behrens, Michael Fogarty, and Mark Fritsch, and Volunteer Firefighters Gabe Lakin, Bobby Child, Cody Haisch, and Dustin Kirkham who worked with Doni Thomas of the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission Boating program.

Life jackets provide some protection from drowning, but is not a replacement for supervision. Understanding that selecting the right size life jacket and putting the jacket on properly is important.

The life jacket loaner program will have a simple, easy to follow check-out procedure. Clear written instructions and signs for parents and guardians will explain the procedure and fit of life jackets. There is also a release form (one time per swimming season with check-off of form for repeat uses/season) that will need signed by people using the life jackets. Sign-out sheet with date, age of child, size of life jacket, and check-off for signing release form.

Life Jacket Sizes

  • Infant Up to 30 pounds
  • Child 30 to 50 pounds
  • Youth 50 to 90 pounds
  • Adult Over 90 pounds

Please make sure when visiting Lawrence Lake, you take advantage of the Life Jacket Loaner Program. Be respectful and follow the procedures. Wear it here. Leave it here.

*Information provided by Seattle Children’s Hospital

Emergency Responses Increase In 2012

Mark King, Fire Chief

Mark King, Fire Chief

Calls continue to increase for fire, rescue and emergency medical services. 2012 was a busy year for SE Thurston Fire Department Firefighters who responded to over 3,068 emergencies, an 8.7% increase compared to 2,822 emergencies in 2011. See the chart below for 2012 call breakdown by major incident types:


As of July 1, 2013, there have been 1,426 emergency response calls.

Fire Near Lawrence Lake Results in ‘Total Loss’

S.E. Thurston Fire Authority responded to a fire off of Lindsay Road on Sunday.

An occupied single-story residential structure was on fire when firefighters arrived, said Chief Mark King. The structure had engulfed about 70 percent of the building when they arrived, he said.

All of the occupants got out of the house without injury, but the home was a total loss, King said.

He said the cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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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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