Opinion

How many pencil pushers does a fire department actually need?

The recent tragic drowning at Wildcat Lake underscores the absolute necessity of having professional and adequately staffed fire stations. Trauma is the leading cause of injuries to our young people, so having emergency responders, who are professionally trained and nearby, will mitigate the severity of these incidents. Recently, the citizens of Central Kitsap overwhelmingly supported and approved a fire/EMS levy. One of the goals of this levy was to hire, train and staff additional firefighters and emergency medical personnel for Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue. These firefighters are the first line of rescue when an emergency happens. Their ability to arrive quickly will make the difference between life and death.

In July 2009, the fire commissioners and fire chief of CKFR decided to delay the hiring of six additional firefighters due to economic reasons. Although tax revenues are undoubtedly a factor in this decision, I wonder if CKFR has taken a hard look at their administrative staffing levels. How many secretaries and pencil pushers does a fire department actually need? Could some of these positions be eliminated? Could the Kitsap County Fire Marshal, who is statutorily responsible for fire code enforcement in unincorporated Kitsap County, assume the duties for fire inspections and fire prevention education?

CKFR employs approximately 96 paid, full-time personnel. On any given weekday, how many firefighters/paramedics are on duty, meaning they live, eat and sleep in a fire station, and how many administrative personnel are working during the day? Perhaps the leadership at Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue should spend more time efficiently managing our fire district to ensure our safety and less time worrying about mergers with neighboring fire districts. I would also like to hear from our elected fire commissioners, in this forum, about the ratio of administrators to firefighters at CKFR. To the paid professional firefighters and paramedics at CKFR, I wish to thank you all for the absolutely outstanding work you do and the care you provide to all your citizens.

BILL MINKS

Seabeck

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