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Firefighters from S.E. Thurston Fire Authority passed out candy on Halloween night, across the City of Yelm. To the delight of hundreds of children, an Engine and a Brush Truck were staffed with both career and volunteer firefighters, who volunteered for the evening.

The evening allowed an up-close encounter with both of the rigs and firefighters, as kids were encouraged to sit in the engine for a view many will remember for the rest of their lives.

“I had a teenager tell me this was her best Halloween ever, as she sat in the front seat of our Engine,” said volunteer firefighter Erika McInnis, who spent the evening in an Engine driven by career firefighter Lieutenant Ann Holeman. ” It was great to share the experience with kids and families across our community and I hope they are inspired to become firefighters too.”

Holloween Picture

The Fire Department Teams up with McDonalds

SE Thurston Fire Department Teams up with the Yelm McDonalds and raises money for the Ronald McDonald house in Seattle. The Ronald McDonald house is a “home away from home” for families so they can stay close to their hospitalized child at little or no cost. The cost to stay at the Seattle house is $25.00 per night and the money raised by SE Thurston Fire Department and Yelm McDonalds will cover that cost.

County, City Emergency Coordinators Discuss Plans, Outcomes When Disaster Hits

Posted: Friday, May 2, 2014 3:30 pm
by Steven Wyble

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Steven Wyble / Nisqually Valley News

Steven Wyble / Nisqually Valley News

When preparing for an emergency, the first thing you need is a plan.

That’s according to Andrew Kinney, the emergency management coordinator for Thurston County.
Kinney spoke at Yelm’s Triad Arts Theater on Monday as part of the theater’s Alpha Centauri lecture series. Kinney was joined by Yelm Police Chief Todd Stancil, who is the city’s emergency management director. Stancil was joined by Yelm Public Works Director Ryan Johnstone.

Kinney — who said he has worked as a geographer for 36 years, including as a researcher for the Environmental Protection Agency — touched on a variety of environmental hazards that could potentially affect Thurston County: flooding, winter storms, volcanoes, solar flares, landslides, mudflows, heatwaves, tornados, wildfires, windstorms and earthquakes.

Kinney said the most common hazards in our area are short-term; the kinds of hazards its recommended people be prepared to weather for up to 72 hours: floods, winter storms, wildfires and windstorms.
Should we be worried about the potential disasters in the area?

There are hazards all across the country, Kinney said. People should learn what the hazards in their area are and prepare for them.

“I’ve been in every state in the U.S., seen a lot of great stuff — I choose to live here despite all those hazards,” he said.

Develop a plan and know what to do, Kinney said. Don’t drive over water in a flood — driving over flooded roadways accounts for most of the deaths during floods, he said. Keep a pair of shoes under your bed so you can walk over broken items after an earthquake. Establish an emergency contact who lives out of the area. Know how to turn off gas, water and electricity.

Stancil focused his presentation on how the city of Yelm prepares for potential disasters.
In addition to participating in Thurston County’s emergency management board, the city of Yelm has its own emergency management board that meets monthly. Stancil said it’s comprised of himself as emergency director, the mayor, the chief of Southeast Thurston Fire Authority, the city’s building official and the city of Rainier mayor.

“Our main purpose, our main mission, is how do we work as a city to still provide a service during a disaster or emergency? And it’s really quite scary when you start to consider what could happen and you look at how many of us are actually left or able to get here to help,” he said.

Stancil said the number often referenced is to assume that at least 25 percent of your staff won’t be able to come in to work.

“One of the things we do as a board is we look at who can we expect to be here, who is an essential staff, who isn’t essential staff, how can we continue to provide a service to the residents?”

Fuel — specifically, how the city can fuel its emergency vehicles during a disaster — is one example of an issue considered by the board, he said. None of the fueling stations in the city have backup power.
“When the power’s out, there is no fuel here,” he said.

The city has partnered with Yelm Community Schools to use the fuel station it uses for its buses, he said. In addition to partnering with schools, the city has partnered with local churches and the Nisqually Valley Moose Lodge for emergency services, he said.

One church is in the process of becoming a Red Cross-certified shelter, he said, meaning it meets certain criteria set forth by the Red Cross.

The schools are currently the city’s designated shelter, but that can be a problem if they don’t have power. The only school that has a backup generator is Lackamas Elementary, he said, which is about eight miles out of the city limits.

One unique program the city has developed for emergencies is the creation of a vulnerable citizens registry, Stancil said.

The registry is made up of vulnerable citizens the city will check on in the event of an emergency. They may call before or during an event, or visit them in person if they aren’t available over the phone, he said.

Stancil said he remembered a windstorm that left the city without power for seven or eight days. They received a call from an elderly woman who lived just outside the city limits who said she had a water leak.

When the public works department arrived in the house, they discovered the woman, who was in her 80s, lived by herself, and was on oxygen, was tolerating temperatures in the low 50s.

She had firewood stacked, but didn’t know how to start the fire, he said.

The public works department built her a fire — just before the electricity came back on.

“It really made us wonder, really made us concerned, like, how many of these people are out there that will not ask for help?” Stancil said. “A lot of people don’t want to go to a shelter. They don’t want to leave their home and go to a shelter with strangers.”

About 40 residents are on the registry. Most have been signed up by a relative, Stancil said.
Stancil said one aspect of disasters that often gets overlooked is recovery. The city of Oakland, Calif., took more than 10 years to recover after the 1989 earthquake that struck the San Francisco Bay area, he said.

The question for Yelm is, if the city had to spend one or two years recovering from a disaster, how would it do that? Where would the city get the people needed to help with recovery?

“We’re pretty good at being prepared … and then dealing with the storm, what to do during the storm,” he said. “As far as recovery, that’s really where it gets expensive over time because really we’re pretty thin on resources.”

Stancil said the city’s sewer system needs power to run and in a power outage lasting more than a day or two, the sewer system starts backing up, requiring the city to bring in trucks to pump out the sewer system.

The city usually gets power back on before people living outside the city; the people living in the city start inviting their friends without power to come over and shower or use their bathrooms.

“The sewer system can’t handle it,” Stancil said. “They get backed up.”

People can hook up their holding tanks to a generator, but Johnstone cautioned that people should make sure they know how to hook up the generator correctly.

Yelm’s public safety building, located at 206 McKenzie Ave., is the city’s emergency operations center, Stancil said. The building, which has a generator, was completed in 2008 and designed so all city functions can be performed there.

S.E. Thurston Fire Authority Kicks Off Food Drive



By the Nisqually Valley News

Southeast Thurston Fire Authority’s Yelm and Rainier fire auxiliaries kick off their annual holiday gift and food drive for families in need.
The fire authority is seeking the following donations: gifts for boys and girls of all ages, canned or nonperishable food items, like-new clothing, toys and games, like-new coats of all sizes and travel-size shampoo and soap.

Volunteers are also needed to wrap and pick up items Dec. 17-19, and to hand out baskets on Dec. 21. People who would like to volunteer can call Kathie Schleis at 360-280-0941.

Donations can be dropped off at fire stations at 12506 133rd Ave SE in Rainier and 709 Mill Road SE in Yelm.

Monetary donations can be mailed to Rainier Fire Auxiliary PO BOX 777, Yelm WA 98597

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Fire District to Hand Out Stuffed Animals, Candy Canes

By Steven Wyble


TwinStar Credit Union employees and customers donated $1,000 used to buy stuffed animals to give to Southeast Thurston Fire Authority to pass out during the holiday season.

TwinStar Credit Union in Yelm and S.E. Thurston Fire Authority are working together to help spread holiday cheer.

The TwinStar branch at 1105 W. Yelm Ave. donated about $1,000 worth of stuffed animals to the fire district.

The money for the animals was donated by credit union customers and employees.

Firefighters will pass out some of the stuffed animals donated by TwinStar, as well as candy canes, at events in Yelm and Rainier. Santa Claus, his red suit matching the fire engines, will be in tow to greet area children.

“I think it’s a chance for us to get out and be seen by the people who support us, citizens and taxpayers; and a chance to give back to them, and a chance for kids to see the fire truck and for us to hand out donated (stuffed) animals,” said Fire Chief Mark King.

It allows the fire department to interact with people during a happy time of celebration rather than during a service call, he said.
Firefighters will also keep some of the stuffed animals in their trucks to pass out to help calm children involved in emergencies, said Joyce Willms, public relations representative for S.E. Thurston Fire Authority.

The fire district’s auxiliary is asking for donations to help provide presents and meals to people in the community.

“In a time like this, the way the economy is, people need a helping hand.” Willms said. “We’re asking for donations from everybody. … We’ve all been in a time in our life when we need a helping hand. That’s what the fire department is all about, is helping people.”

More Information

If You Want to Donate:
People interested in donating stuffed animals, toys, food or money should contact Kathie Schleis, manager of the fire district auxiliary, at 360-280-0941. Donations may also be dropped off at the Rainier Fire Station, 12506 133rd Ave. S.E., Rainier, and Yelm Fire Station at 709 Mill Road S.E., Yelm. Checks should be made out to Rainier Fire Auxiliary and can be mailed to P.O. Box 777, Yelm, WA 98597.

Santa’s Schedule:
S.E. Thurston Fire Authority and a jolly Santa Claus will pass out stuffed animals and candy canes in the Lake Lawrence area 6 p.m. Dec. 7, Nisqually Pines 6 p.m. Dec. 8, and 6 p.m. at the Yelm Safeway parking lot Dec. 15. Times are approximate.

They’ll also be in the Christmas in the Park parade 9:30 a.m. Dec. 7 and at the Rainier Christmas Tree Lighting, 6 p.m. Dec. 7 at Rainier City Hall.

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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.