SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Will you get more service with doubled fees?
By Ed Fry


January 02, 2007
Tuesday PM

I would like to add some comments to the proposed changes and doubling fees that the district is putting out is a lot of misinformation as well as half truths by adding a 3rd full time firefighter to the department.

First and foremost, I am a firefighter with over 25 years of career and volunteer urban and rural experience so a majority of the information that I present is factual and based on research, not shooting from the hip without revealing all of the facts.

Understanding the ISO: The Insurance Services Organization rates the ability of fire departments to protect property from fire based on many factors, including the equipment, water supplies and personnel in a department's district. This rating is used by some insurance companies as a base for homeowner's insurance. An ISO rating of 10 is the worst, where no fire protection is available, while a rating of 1 is the best. Simply adding a third does not automatically change the rating; in fact there is a lot that has to be done to meet a rating and bring a rating up to a different classification. To better understand this, check out the rating system at: or call them at 1-800-444-4554.

Understanding the response to a fire; North Tongass VFD is well equipped and trained, but in order to do a fast attack on a fire, the department must follow a federal mandate of 2 in 2 out rule. Under the mandate, there must be a minimum of 4 certified firefighters (NFPA 1001 requirements) on scene before an interior attack can commence. Keep in mind that when a fire starts, it grows exponentially and doubles in size every 10 minutes. Coupling that with the federal rule 2 in 2 out rule; it could be argued that the fire will cause significant if not a total loss to the property before 4 certified firefighters arrive. The best way to knock a fire down before the department arrives is retro installation of home fire protection systems

Salary structure is too high. The current median salary for a Firefighter/Paramedic nationally is $35,000 to $55,000 depending on education and prior experience. This position is nearly double the national average with an EMT-II certification, not a Paramedic (MICP) license. WOW!

In closing, the proposal is a little premature for us at the north end. We should do some more number crunching as well as a feasibility study to see if and in fact there is a benefited need for our area.

Additionally, residents should be told the entire process of the ISO, it is just not a "poof" and the rating comes up, the process involves an inspection and interview of the department. It begs the question, are you getting more service with doubled fees?


Ed Fry
Ketchikan, AK

Received January 02, 2007 - Published January 02, 2006

About: "firefighter with over 25 years of career and volunteer urban and rural experience"


Related Article:

Fee Increase Proposed for North Tongass Fire & EMS Service Area - Some Ketchikan residents in the North Tongass Fire & EMS Service Area could see an increase in their fiscal year 2007-2008 service area fees if a proposal to hire a third full-time firefighter for the North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department (NTVFD) is approved. The service area Board of Directors and NTVFD will host an open house at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, January 4th, at the North Tongass Fire Station 8, 13110 North Tongass Highway, to hear public comment regarding the proposed tax and fee changes. Everyone owning property in the North End is highly encouraged to attend. - More...
Sunday - December 31, 2006



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Ketchikan, Alaska