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North Tongass Fire Department Ready To Respond
Will be answering all emergencies in their area Feb. 1st


January 29, 2004
Thursday - 12:30 am

North Tongass Fire Department Chief Steve DeChellis said the North Tongass Fire Department is now prepared to respond to all fires and EMS calls in the North Tongass District. DeChellis said, "As of February 1st, the North Tongass Fire Department will be


NTF Dept. Chief Steve DeChellis
file photo by Dick Kauffman
answering all emergencies in their area. It's been a long and challenging road, but we did it."

Chief DeChellis said it took six-months of preparation to be able to respond to all the calls in the North Tongass District . He said, "Some people might think that 6-months was way too long for doing such a deed. As the Fire Chief with the North Tongass Fire Department, I think that we needed at least 6-months to prepare for such a task. With regards to the number of hours needed to train all of its members in fighting fires and in responding to EMS calls, getting the appropriate fire apparatus and stalking it with all the right equipment, and all other matters that need to take place prior to being ready to respond to all calls in ones area, 6-months isn't a long time at all."

DeChellis said the North Tongass Fire Department has two-full-time employees and 19 Volunteers. He said, "Of the 21-member Department, only half have ever fought a fire in their lifetime, and of those, we will be relying on 4-medics to respond to EMS calls."

The Chief said, "Most people don't fully understand what it takes to start a Fire Department from scratch. As a member of the Fire Service for 27-years, I can tell you that there is more than meets the eye." DeChellis said, "Beginning a Fire Department from scratch is even new to me. I have always joined Fire Departments that have already in in place for a number of years by the time I've joined. There's a lot of work that needs to take place before its members are ready to respond to any emergency."

DeChellis remarked that for the last 6-months the North Tongass Fire Department crew has been working in order to be prepared to answer the call. Chief DeChellis said, "Because of the time that it takes to become fully ready to answer the call, we have had excellent coverage during the entire 6-months of preparation." During the six-months of training and preparation, the Ketchikan Fire Department has been answering all of the North Tongass EMS calls for the NTFD, and the South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department has been responding to all of the North Tongass fire calls. Chief DeChellis said, "Every members of the North Tongass Fire Department would like to thank both Departments for helping out these last several months."

Now that the North Tongass Fire Department is ready to respond to all emergencies, the three agencies will continue to work together through a Mutual-Aid Agreement said DeChellis. If any one of the three Departments needs help with any type of call, the other two Departments will respond upon request.

Chief DeChellis said, "For the entire community, all three Fire Departments want you to know that any time you have an emergency, call 9-1-1; even the people at the North End." He said the process is as follows: "If you have an emergency, dial 9-1-1. You should get someone from the Ketchikan Police Department. They will ask you a couple of questions. One of which will be, 'What type of emergency do you have?' Then, they will transfer you to the appropriate emergency agency; Fire, Police, Troopers. All 9-1-1 calls that come in needing a Fire Engine or EMS Medical personnel, the Ketchikan Police Department will transfer the caller to the Ketchikan Fire Department. All Fire and EMS emergencies are now transferred to one Central Dispatch Center at the Ketchikan Fire Department."

Chief DeChellis said, "The North Tongass Fire Department is still recruiting for Volunteers at the North End. Either come by, or call the Fire Station, at 247-5521."


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