The Chelan County Fire District 7’s Board of Commissioners welcomed Chelan County’s new Fire Marshal Bob Plumb at the regular meeting held on July 12, 2017. Plumb, who has roots in Chelan County, moved to back to the area from Alaska.
Plumb offered a brief background to meeting attendees and the board. “I’m glad to be back here, although it’s kind of hot,” Plumb said with a laugh.
The Chelan County Fire Marshal is responsible for coordinating with the county’s rural fire district chiefs in enforcing fire and safety codes, as well as conducting inspections.
Commissioner Russ Jones continued the marine response update from the previous meeting requesting that the board move forward in authorizing action to be taken should a suitable vessel become available for purchase.
“We are studying configurations and gathering information on boats,” Jones stated. “We are still in the process of looking at what would be desirable and how to get funds for that. In addition, I still think we should have a resolution that would authorize myself and whomever else we will have on this committee to act should something come up.”
The department currently owns a marine vessel known as Marine 7-1. The vessel is not adequate for the transport of rescue swimmers. The board plans to sell the old vessel to help offset the costs of the new apparatus.
“This isn’t something that’s going to be a big budget increase. It will be replacing something useless with something that is safe to be on,” Jones added referring to inadequacies of Marine 7-1.
Commissioner Tom Peters moved to authorize the purchase of a vessel up to $5,000 with the caveat that the purpose would be for transport of rescue swimmers and not firefighting on the water of Lake Chelan until research could be conducted on that operation. The board approved the motion unanimously.
Firefighter Justin Thorpe was reported to have taken over the planning of a new Explorer Program which would introduce high school students to the ins and outs of firefighting.
“I am going to set up a meeting with Kurt Blanchard out of Wenatchee who has a really good program down there,” Thorpe stated. “I have a meeting with the school superintendent (Chelan School District) to see if we can’t get the program set up as a club so the students can get credit for participating.”
“I am excited to get that program back up and running, because I think it will be important culturally in possibly finding volunteers in the future,” Assistant Fire Chief Mark Donnell added.
Next, Commissioner Peters presented research he had conducted into a consultant who would be brought in to offer expertise and aid the board on how to move forward with a levy lid lift request.
The fire department’s last levy lid lift took place in 2006, setting a rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.
“We have narrowed the search down to Bob Merritt,” Peters stated. “He has a total of 44 years of firefighting experience. He has worked in Snohomish and Yakima. He did consulting work in Manson, and I spoke with Arnold Baker about that, and he was very pleased with the work he did for them over there (Manson Fire Department, District 5).”
“We are in involved in determining the group of citizens who will be invited to participate in a citizens advisory group,” Peters explained, adding later that the group should be representative of various backgrounds, income levels, business owners and citizens.
The citizens advisory group would meet independently of the board for approximately eight weeks with the consultant guiding and educating the group in the workings of the department among other details. At the end of that period, the group would offer a recommendation to the board on what services the department should offer and how the department should look into the future.
“I support the concept from the point of having a third-party guy come in and look at what we have done the past seven years and come back and say, ‘Yes, we are on track,’ or, ‘No, we need to take a step back,’” Fire Chief Tim Lemon stated. “The bottom line is that the public owns this place. We are just entrusted with it.”
Commissioner Jones made a motion to hire Bob Merritt as a consultant for the department with the board approving the motion unanimously.
The next meeting of Chelan 7 Fire and Rescue Board of Commissioners is scheduled for August 9, 2017, at 4 p.m. at the Chelan Fire Hall located at 232 East Wapato Avenue in Chelan, Washington.
(By Jillian Foster)