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North Tongass Fire Department Off To A Good Start
Still Recruiting Volunteers


October 03, 2003
Friday - 12:50 am

Ketchikan, Alaska - According to Fire Chief Steve De Chellis, the North Tongass Fire Department is off to a good start.

Chief De Chellis reported that Jerry Kiffer is their new EMS/Lieutenant and Kiffer is working hard to train the department's members in Basic Life Support and to prepare for the arrival of the North Tongass Fire Department's new Ambulance - which is expected in mid-December. Kiffer is also working in conjunction with the Ketchikan Fire Department's EMS Department. According to Chief De Chellis Jerry Kiffer has 18 years of both Emergency Medical and Fire Fighting experience.

North Tongass Fire Department's New Fire Engine arrived Sunday...
photo by Dick Kauffman

Also a great asset for the Department's ever growing needs of Fire Fighting Training is Kevin Murphy, said Chief De Chellis. Murphy is a 19-year veteran of the Ketchikan Fire Department.

Chief De Chellis said the North Tongass Fire Department has approximately ten Volunteers, but he says a lot more need to apply to provide adequate service to the Community. De Chellis said for those who are planning to apply as a Volunteer or who have already picked up an application, he recommends that you submit your application as soon as possible because the Training Program has just started. "Now is a great time to begin learning the basics of Fighting Fires and Emergency Medical Techniques," said the Fire Chief. De Chellis said they are in need of all types of Volunteers. There is more than just fighting fires and putting bandages on people. Volunteers are also needed for driving the apparatus, file keeping, computer services, cleaning the fire station and apparatus, and to provide an Auxiliary Program. All of these positions help in maintaining an efficient Fire Department.

Chief De Chellis said that they will have two new Fire Engines. One of which just arrived this past Sunday, and the other one is expected to arrive by the end of October. Chief De Chellis said, "With the one Pumper/Tanker that the Department already has, we anticipate the delivery of two more in approximately six to eight months. So, the next time you drive by the North Tongass Fire Station, at 7332 North Tongass Highway, you may see a number of Fire Trucks parked inside. But, it won't be until the first of the year that our organization will be ready to respond to emergencies."

The Fire Chief said, "First and foremost, all members of this Department must be adequately trained, for safety is our number one responsibility for both our Firefighters and for the people within our community." He added, "We can have all the Fire Stations and apparatus that money can buy, but we can't respond until we are adequately trained, according to Federal, State, and Local requirements." Chief De Chellis this Department cannot sacrifice the safety of its members, or the safety of its citizens for a "Hurry-Up and respond approach." Chief De Chellis said he can still remember the days when he was a Boy Scout, "Be Prepared."

NTFD's New Fire Engine (left) and Pumper/Tanker (right)
photo by Dick Kauffman

Because of the need for preparation De Chellis said, there has been, and continues to be an agreement with the City and the Borough in providing the services needed at the North End. He said, "Right now, the Ketchikan Fire Department is providing Emergency Medical Service and the South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department is providing service for fighting fires." The Fire Chief said, "But, just like in all communities throughout this Nation, the citizens need to help themselves. No Fire Department, whether big or small, can do it all. We need your help." Chief De Chellis listed areas in which people can help:

  • Good housekeeping is very important to everyone; for you and for the safety of everyone who comes by to visit.
  • It's also a great idea to have smoke detectors, and ones that work.
  • Because some people use their fireplaces to heat their homes, we advise to to clean your chimney well in advance of winter.
  • And, it's also a good idea to properly secure your heat lamps, and to properly place your portable heaters so they do not lean up against anything that can cause ignition.

As the Fire Chief of the North Tongass Fire Department, De Chellis said he looks forward to comments or any questions you may have about the North Tongass Fire Department.

Chief De Chellis said, "Remember, we are always looking for Volunteers, no matter what service you can provide. Please come by the Fire station or call 247-5521 for an application, or to just say hi." He reminded everyone to "Be Safe."



Related stories/photos:

De Chellis NTFD's New Fire Chief...
August 12, 2003

North Tongass Fire Department receives first new tanker truck & gets new fire chief ...
August 11, 2003


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