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Community Update from Chief Swinhart

I am now on my second month of leading the Key Peninsula Fire Department and the learning curve remains steep, but I appreciate the continued support from our staff, commissioners, and community, as I learn the challenges we face. Some updates that may be of interest to our KP citizens:

· Interviews with all staff members are nearing completion. Once this project is done I’ll be making a formal public presentation before our board to discuss the concerns of our staff has and will make recommendations for improvement.

· In the next few weeks, we’ll be looking at staffing and organizational restructuring of our agency

· We are exploring operational deployment opportunities that increased staffing has afforded us

· Repair quotes have been received for the restaurant building across the street from Station 46 in Key Center. As presented before the board at our last meeting, these repairs are estimated to be approximately $78,000. We are in discussions with a proposed tenant to take these repairs on themselves so the district is not having to front that investment. The board will be discussing this issue further at their next meeting. Members of the public are encouraged to attend if they would like their voices heard.

· The department will be re-convening our capital facilities committee soon to discuss new and upgraded facilities in the district and the potential cost of such improvements. We will likely have room on the committee for new members. This is your opportunity to have a voice in the direction your district goes in the future. If you are interested in serving on the committee, please contact Fire Chief Nick Swinhart,

District Deployment Model

In getting up to speed with the department and KP community, I’ve come to realize that many of our citizens do not understand how we deploy our resources for emergency medical and fire responses. A brief synopsis of what stations we deploy from and the staffing we use:

· Station 46 (Key Center) – This is our administrative offices building and also houses apparatus used by our volunteer firefighters. This station has not had 24/7 staffing since the 1990s

· Station 44 (Wauna) – This station houses Medic 44 with a minimum daily staffing of 2 firefighters or paramedics. Engine 44 is located here as well but does not always have staffing available for response

· Station 45 (Wright Bliss) – This station is currently used for storage and also houses one of our water tenders deployed by our volunteer firefighters. There has been no permanent staffing at this station but we are exploring ways to change that in the future

· Station 47 (Home) – Our Battalion Chief is located at this station, along with a minimum staffing of 2 firefighters on Engine


· Station 48 (Herron Island) – Located on Herron Island, this station houses one pumper and is not staffed

· Station 49 (Longbranch) – Medic 49 deploys from this station with a minimum of 2 firefighters or paramedics. Engine 49 is also located in this station but does not always have staffing available for response

July 4 and Summer Safety Tips

The July 4th holiday is upon us and so is one of the first (of likely many) blasts of heat we’re going to get on the Key Peninsula. As we enter summer, please keep the following fire safety tips in mind to maintain the natural beauty of our Key Peninsula, as well as your own safety:

Remove combustible vegetation from around any structure. Thin out continuous tree and brush cover and remove dead limbs, fallen trees, leaves, twigs and evergreen tree cones within 30 feet of the structure to create a "safety zone" of low fuel density all around the home. (We've already had two recent structure fires that would have caused significant wildland spread if it had been a little drier.)

  • Prune trees branches to 10 feet above the ground and remove leaves and twigs from beneath trees, in the yard, on roofs, patios and landscaped shrubs.

  • Do not use highly flammable landscaping near structures. Avoid using bark or wood chip mulch in the safety zone.

  • Stack firewood uphill at least 15 feet from a house. Fire risks increase when wooden decks, patios and woodpiles are placed close to structures or when flammable materials are stored near


  • Be aware that roofs and walls made of untreated flammable materials such as wood shakes and shingles pose a significant fire threat. Wind-carried embers can ignite such fuel sources.

  • Clean roof and gutters.

  • Mow tall grass and keep it to a maximum height of two inches within the home safety zone.

  • Inspect and clean chimneys regularly. Equip chimneys for wood burning heating units with spark arresters.

  • Avoid all outdoor burning.

  • Prevent mishaps with outdoor cooking grills by carefully maintaining the grill and using caution during grill use.

Please stay safe,

Nick Swinhart

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