Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Bellevue firefighters to get wildland training

Council sees state contracts as source of revenue

Express Staff Writer

After participation by Bellevue firefighters in a wildland fire-training session this summer, the city should be able to contract out equipment and personnel to help fight large wildland fires outside of the area, such as the Mustang and Trinity Ridge fires that raged across the state last summer.

“It sounds like a good revenue stream potentially,” said City Councilman David Hattula during a meeting Thursday, when the council authorized payment of $1,220 to cover the cost of attending the training.

Fire Chief Greg Beaver and firefighter Jamie Hoover will attend the training from April 25-28 in Salida, Colo. Beaver said in an interview that the training will bring them closer to the rank of “engine boss,” which requires federal certification.

“We had one engine boss, Gary Robrahn, but he moved to San Diego last year,” Beaver said.

Beaver said that when his department once more has an engine-boss-ranking member, it could rent its one-ton pickup fire-fighting rig through state agencies for $900 to $1,100 for a 12-hour shift.

“I’ve heard some departments earn $10,000 to $30,000 per year contracting out on wildland fires,” said Beaver. “It’s good supplemental income and provides us an opportunity to help out our neighbors. But if you don’t have all the right certifications, you don’t get to go.”

Councilwoman Janet Duffy expressed concern that the Fire Department personnel could be drawn down too much by contracting out on wildland fires. But Beaver said only three Bellevue firefighters would be out of town on a wildland fire at any given time, leaving 15 firefighters to cover emergencies back in town.

“That would be more than enough,” he said. “We also have auto-aid and mutual-aid agreements with other departments in the area, just in case.”

The council also authorized a payment of $6,709 for three sets of fire-fighting clothing.

In other Bellevue news:

- Councilwoman Amber Avila said there have been numerous complaints that the Bellevue Library has been closed when it should have been open. Mayor Chris Koch instructed staff to contact the library board to remedy the problem.

Tony Evans:

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