What you need to know about the Tulalip Bay Fire Department Emergency Services Levy

Tulalip Bay Fire Chief Teri Dodge, pictured third to last in back row, with a handful of the volunteer firefighters that serves the northern half of Tulalip from Priest Point area to Fire Trail Road. Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

Tulalip Bay Fire Chief Teri Dodge, pictured third to last in back row, with a handful of the volunteer firefighters that serves the northern half of Tulalip from Priest Point area to Fire Trail Road.
Photo/ Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

By Brandi N. Montreuil, Tulalip News

TULALIP – Firefighters at the Snohomish County Fire District #15, known as the Tulalip Bay Fire Department, are asking Tulalip tribal members to consider them when voting in this year’s general election, held on November 4.

The fire department, which services 12,000 people living in an area of 22 square miles on the Tulalip Indian Reservation, is seeking permanent funding by way of an Emergency Services Property Tax levy. The levy will expand the department’s services to include Basic Life Support ambulance transport and improve current emergency medical services if passed.

Tulalip Tribes Board of Directors supports the levy and has promised to match the requested $80,000 in the levy. This will provide funding for additional staff to transport patients to local area hospitals during medical emergencies.

The fire department receives 700 calls a year, with 90 percent requiring medical transport. If the levy passes, Tulalip Bay Fire Chief Teri Dodge states the funding will minimize the department’s need for private ambulance services and provide essential training for staff.

“With the addition of the Tulalip Early Learning Academy in Tulalip, the need to have our own transport has increased,” stated Dodge.

“We’ve never had a levy not pass, but we need a 60 percent majority for it to pass,” said Fire Chief Dodge.

The station currently has a rotating shift of 32 volunteer firefighters, but due to a lack of funding the department has not been able to staff for their own ambulance transport.

If the levy passes it would eliminate wait times for ambulances and cut patient costs.

According to the Tulalip Bay Firefighter’s Association, if the levy is passed, “the maximum tax increase per $200,000 assessed valuation will not exceed $50 per year or approximately $4.16 per month.”

“This levy will help us help the people who are like family to us. We have a great history with the community. This department is different than any other fire department. Our staff goes through extensive cultural training and it is reflected in the diversity of our staff. If the levy passes the cost will be a third of what it is now for our community,” said Dodge.

 

Brandi N. Montreuil: 360-913-5402; bmontreuil@tulalipnews.com

Can you stand the heat?

Tulalip Bay Fire Department runs house fire drill

 

Tulalip Bay Frie Chief Teri Dodge uses an infrared sensor to measure the temperature of the burning room.Photo: Andrew Gobin/ Tulalip News

Tulalip Bay Frie Chief Teri Dodge uses an infrared sensor to measure the temperature of the burning room.
Photo: Andrew Gobin/ Tulalip News

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

TULALIP – A ceiling of dense smoke hung inches above our heads as Tulalip Bay Firefighters and I crouched in the burning house. Removing my glove to snap a photo from the inside, I instantly felt the intense heat that filled the room around us. Crawling towards the burning room, my hand began to burn from the heat, forcing me to put my glove back on. Sensors measured the heat in the room where the flames were to be above 600­o Fahrenheit, so Tulalip Bay Fire Chief Teri Dodge splashed the flames with the fire hose. Even through protective bunker gear I could feel the heat from the blast of steam that shot out from the doorway of the room. My air tank was out so I had to get outside.

The Tulalip Bay Fire Department burned a house slated for demolition on June 14 on Mission Beach Road, across from the cemetery. They let me join them for the drill for an exclusive look at what they do, fitting me in bunker gear (firefighter boots, pants, coat, helmet, etc.) complete with an air-pack so I could safely be in the house to observe them in action.

What good is any drill without pizza? We enjoyed a lunch of four different kinds of pizza after the first round of drills were finished. Then on to the second drill, flashovers.

Fireman Eric Brewick punches out portions of the wall for ventilation.Photo: Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

Fireman Eric Berwick punches out portions of the wall for ventilation.
Photo: Andrew Gobin/Tulalip News

I didn’t understand the term, but it sounded exciting. Once more I geared up to go in, though I could only stay in for one round due to safety concerns. There we were, crouched down. A second room was set on fire during lunch and had grown to a good size blaze. I couldn’t get any pictures, having to keep all of my protective gear on. Site commander Tom Cohee was my guide for this round, taking the time to explain what firefighters look for in a fire. Going in we had to crawl. The temperature in the smoke above us was upwards of 200o, much hotter than the 110o on the ground where we were. A firefighter would spray water at the ceiling, and depending on how much came down, they could gauge the temperature of the air above. As things heated up, another ceiling spray, and a cloud of steam surged downward, making visibility so low I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face.

They didn’t spray again for a few minutes, letting the gasses and flames build for the flashover. Cohee explained that flashover is when the air above, which is filled with gasses from things burning, gets so hot that they catch fire and flash, allowing flames to extend out of the burning room, the length of the house ceiling. No sooner had he explained than a flame whipped across the ceiling, rolling down the back wall I was leaning on. A few ceiling sprays cooled the air enough to contain the flashover. I exited with the team. I was heating up in all the gear, but I didn’t realize how hot it actually was in the house. Once outside, I removed my gloves and grabbed my helmet. That was a mistake. I couldn’t touch it any more than I could touch a skillet.

I have a new appreciation for the work firefighters do.

“We train this way because we have to,” said Chief Dodge. “In a real fire, we can’t choose or control the situation we walk into. So here, we have to practice multiple scenarios. Even though it’s practice, these drills are as dangerous as a real house fire.”

Tulalip Bay Fire Department is committed to the Tulalip community. In addition to responding to emergency calls, they can be found handing out fire safety information and tips at different events, like the health fair at the Tulalip Karen I. Fryberg Health Clinic. If you see them out in the community, be sure to say hi.

 

Andrew Gobin: 360- 716-4188; agobin@tulalipnews.com