SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Vote No on KGB Prop 3: EMS and Fire
By Ed Fry


September 28, 2010
Tuesday AM

Dear North Tongass Residents:

Having had the privilege to serve as a Firefighter and Paramedic for over 20 years and the honor to teach administrators how to plan resource allocation and needs assessment, I do not support Proposition 3 and will vote no.

In a letter submitted by Mr. Bylund, he does legitimize additional concerns as the property is industrial. Soil sampling needs to be done to test for the chemicals and spills that have occurred in and around the building in question; I am sure it will be interesting. The cost of the property is one item and is not the only additional expenses that Chief Hull and the Fire Board are trying to sell us on as there are additional expenses!

The point of contention that is raised is that 800K is only the tip of the iceberg for the related costs as once it is purchased; the fire department will obviously want to convert it not only for a water shed, but also another Fire Station. In a declining economy and population, it would be much more fiscally responsible to build a couple of volume cisterns on each of the Fire Departments respected properties eliminating the want to purchase the water shed (and additional uses that have yet to be determined).

There are some misconceptions and half truths when discussion involves the ISO Ratings and if it will make your insurance cheaper with the additional water supply. Fact of the matter is that it will not make your insurance cheaper here in the North Tongass Fire District. The portion that Chief Hull is looking at is part of the Fire Service grading system in hopes that the ISO improves. The ISO survey is based on 3 areas:

1. 40% of this survey is based on the community s water supply. This part of the survey focuses on whether the community has sufficient water-supply for fire suppression beyond daily maximum consumption. ISO surveys all components of the water supply system, including pumps, storage, and filtration. To determine the rate of flow the water mains provide, they observe fire-flow tests at representative locations in the community.

2. 50% of the overall grading is based on the number of engine companies and the amount of water a community needs to fight a fire.

3. 10% percent of the overall grading is based on how well the fire department receives fire alarms and dispatches its firefighting resources.

Meaning more cost in addition to 800K. The change in North Tongass Fire Department ISO rating would, not change dramatically; I believe that NTFD is 9 out of 10 (1 is the best).

In the costs related to the station AKA water shed, we will have an $85 increase in fire service fee. There is no proposal for additional service, just a lot more water to be used in the surround and drown method of defensive firefighting in the district.

Remember that NTFD has a 65% loss rate on fires in the past 5 years. In my professional opinion this was not because of manpower on scene or the lack of water, it is because of time lapse of the call and ability to do interior firefighting should a rapid and direct attack be possible. A small kitchen fire can quickly engulf a house and an interior attack is not possible.

Again I will be voting no on the proposition as there is no fiscal responsibility or structured needs assessment that has been done. In my own professional assessment if Chief Hull wants more water, then cistern the water on our fire station property, devote more time to needs assessment for the community, begin a systemic review of the current fire coding and tighten the codes in prevention and enforcement, make grants available to the homeowner to update or aid in the installation of a residential fire suppression system, and stop adding additional debt in a financially stressed community.

Vote no on Proposition 3, the white elephant!


Ed Fry
Ketchikan, AK

About: "served as a Firefighter and Paramedic for over 20 years and the honor to teach administrators how to plan resource allocation and needs assessment"

Received September 22, 2010 - Published September 28, 2010



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