New SKFR staff should be trained, ready by spring

The baker’s dozen of firefighters South Kitsap Fire and Rescue hired this year are on-duty, but Deputy Chief Steve Wright said it will still be several months before they are considered full-fledged staff members.

“They are still in training mode, and many are heading off to the fire academy in three weeks,” Wright told the SKFR board of commissioners at its Aug. 13 meeting. “It takes about a year to complete the process.”

SKFR hired 13 firefighter/EMTS and paramedics after its Emergency Medical Services Levy was successfully renewed in May. Twelve of the positions were added after the levy passage.

Once the staff members are trained, Wright said the priority is to staff Station 9 on Mile Hill Drive near Manchester. The previously volunteer station is currently being remodeled so it can be utilized by career staff.

The next staff members will be assigned to Station 31 on Tremont Street, and some of the staff will remain as the dedicated crew for the district’s new Quint ladder truck.

“This will be the first piece of apparatus that not everyone will be trained to drive,” Wright said. “The vast majority of firefighter/EMTS will be, just not all the paramedics.”

Once all the new staff members are fully trained, which Wright said would hopefully be by April 2010, the first two positions will be assigned to Station 9. This will raise the minimum staffing number from 17 to 19.

Once all new staff members are added, four additional people will be added to each 12-hour shift, which adds up to 12. The shift staffing will increase from 24 to 28 per shift.

“This is pretty exciting,” Wright said. “Having Station 9 operating will have an effect on the entire district’s operations.”

• Also at the meeting, SKFR Chief Wayne Senter updated the commissioners on the status of talks surrounding the formation of West Sound Fire and Rescue, which would merge SKFR, Bremertom Fire and Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue.

Senter said as directed by the WSFR planning committee, he and CKFR Chief Ken Burdette and Bremerton Fire Chief Al Duke met to discuss their options with attorney Ken Bagwell.

Following the meeting, Senter said it appeared to him that the chiefs had agreed on a logical plan of action.

“Since then, however, one of the boards has presented another option,” he said. “And we have been asked to do another meeting with the unions.”

Senter said he agreed to the meeting, and his feeling was it was likely to be held before Sept. 1, which is when the next WSFR planning committee meeting is scheduled.

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