Ryan Shaughnessy sworn in as Tulalip Bay’s new Fire Chief

By Micheal Rios, Tulalip News 

“Couldn’t be prouder as an organization to be where we are at right now,” assured Fire District 15 Commissioner, David Sherman, in his opening statement to an engaged crowd of Tulalip citizens and Fire Department personnel who gathered to witness the swearing-in of a new fire chief.

The occasion was a regular board meeting for the Fire Commissioners of Snohomish County Fire District #15 held at the Tulalip Administration Building on Tuesday, February 13. Although a regularly scheduled board meeting, it was anything but regular as the event doubled as a momentous occasion with Ryan Shaughnessy being sworn-in as Fire Chief.

“I’d like to thank the Commissioners and everybody here for supporting me,” said Fire Chief Shaughnessy immediately after being sworn-in. “It’s an exciting time for me personally and, of course, for our Fire Department. I have a great staff that I work with and look forward to the future.”

Marlin Fryberg, Jr congratulates Ryan Shaughnessy, newly sworn-in Fire Chief.

Fire Chief Shaughnessy will be leading the firefighters at Snohomish County Fire District #15, known as the Tulalip Bay Fire Department, which services an estimated 13,000 people living in an area of 22 square miles on the Tulalip Reservation.

Tulalip tribal member and Fire Commissioner, Marlin Fryberg, Jr., took a moment to reflect on the how far Tulalip Bay Fire Department has come over the years. “Today’s a very historical day for our people here at Tulalip. We’ve come leaps and bounds from where we started, and I’m honored to witness us take this step to the next professional level for our people and community.”

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

Foundation proposes Salish Sea trail on inland waters

Salish-seaBy Gale Fiege, The Herald

A new nonprofit group is making strides to establish a coastal trail along the inland marine waters of Washington and British Columbia.

The Bellingham-based Salish Sea Foundation also wants those waters designated as an international marine sanctuary.

Doug Tolchin, an organizer of the foundation, said the effort is in its early stages, but the goal is firm.

“We recognize the Salish Sea as an international treasure of exceptional importance, where mountains, rivers, creeks, estuaries and islands come together in an explosion of amazing landscapes,” Tolchin said. “Its wildlife populations deserve all the protection and restoration they can get.”

Four years ago, a Western Washington University professor convinced the U.S. and Canadian governments to ascribe the name Salish Sea to the regional name for the complex 5,500-square-mile body of water that includes the Georgia Strait, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound.

In Snohomish County, those bodies of water include Port Susan, Possession Sound, Tulalip Bay and Port Gardner. Salish Sea hasn’t replaced the names of the many canals, straits, bays, ports, sounds and inlets that make up the inland waters, but the term has helped naturalists and scientists describe a unified ecosystem.

The term “sea” is a good one because it’s a large body of salt water partly enclosed by land and protected from the open ocean, said Bert Webber, the retired marine biology professor who championed the Salish Sea name. The name Salish recognizes the indigenous people of the same region who are connected by various Coast Salish languages, he said.

Officials with the Tulalip Tribes and other regional American Indian tribes and First Nations in Canada supported naming the region the Salish Sea and to the effort to restore and improve its ecosystem.

Hundreds of years after the first European exploration in the region, about 8 million people now live on or near the shores of the inland sea. Their accompanying activity has taken a toll on the Salish Sea, Tolchin said.

“The biggest source of pollution here is us,” he said. “We have to get people to stop their use of detergents and chemicals that pollute the waterways, to keep pet waste out of the storm water runoff and other simple changes.”

Tolchin said there is another way people can get involved.

“We would like to see people study our Salish Sea marine sanctuary vision map, so that they can clearly understand where and what is the Salish Sea,” Tolchin said. “People also can take a look at their own watershed areas and see what they can do to keep those clean.”

The foundation’s trail map is not set in stone, but generally gives the viewer an idea about how existing trails might be linked together along the water, he said.

Salish Sea Foundation also is in the process of assembling the group’s board of directors and advisers. Suggestions are welcome at www.salishsea.org, Tolchin said.

“Our big effort will be to get the marine sanctuary designation on the ballots in Washington and British Columbia in 2014,” Tolchin said. “We want people to feel ownership in this project.”

In a statement from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation in British Columbia, tribal leader Rueben George said protection of the Salish Sea as a marine sanctuary will benefit all people.

“There is no price for the sacred, whether it is the mineral, plant, animal or human. This is not just an environmental challenge; it is an issue that pertains to all of us, including our future generations and all life on Mother Earth. …,” George said. “The creation of the Salish Sea Marine Sanctuary (will be) a beautiful example of protecting and restoring the sacred.”