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Team effort put out the fire
By Chief David Hull


June 11, 2005

I want to personally thank all of the great professional help that responded to Point Higgins School on Thursday afternoon. Every one of the participants was a true professional. There were volunteer firefighters from every part of this community, career members of the Ketchikan Fire Department, Alaska State Troopers, Temsco, KVRS, Forest Service, School Officials, Ward Cove Market making us incredible pizza, and we have to thank all the employers who let their volunteer firefighter employees off to fight the fire. The list goes on for quite a while.

My point is that this was a community team event with members from a lot of individual teams that worked together toward a common goal; save the school and put the fire out. I have had a lot of phone calls telling me what a good job I did, but the truth of the matter is the best job I did was to stay out of the way.

What a great feeling it is as an Incident Commander to ask someone if they can get a helicopter with a bucket in the air, or pizzas for 50 people cooked, or rehab for some tired firefighters. All I heard that afternoon was " Yep!" and it was done. That's what put that fire out. I asked for it and it got done, as long as I stayed out of the way of course.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to provide a little public fire prevention education, PLEASE put off all your outside burning for a while until we get a good hard rain. The little sprinkle we have gotten in the last few days is really not enough to make it safe to burn. Once it does become safe to burn again, please call 225-9616 and let us know that you are burning so we can keep track of the plumes of smoke around.

Sometimes people get so used to seeing smoke from people burning that they are reluctant to call in a smoke sighting thinking someone is just "burning trash". So, if it looks bad, by all means call it in. It's better than having a small fire get out of hand. We'll go take a look. Yes, it is time consuming and does have fuel costs associated with it, but calling in to the dispatch center saves a lot of both by pinpointing places where people have called in already.

So, on behalf of the North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department and the Board of Directors of the North Tongass Fire & EMS Service Area, please accept my thanks to all who participated in what was a very successful stop on what could easily have been a very, very damaging event.

David Hull, Chief
North Tongass Volunteer Fire Department
Ketchikan, AK - USA


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