The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Tracy Thompson
the Times 

Columbia County-Walla Walla Fire district #2 commissioners meet

Fire Chief job description, FEMA ‘mini grant’ and increased community outreach were discussed


February 13, 2020

The Columbia County-Walla Walla County Joint Fire District #2 held their monthly meeting last

Wednesday. The job description for the fire chief position is still being finalized and Commissioner Deb Fortner presented a proposal that the district consider hiring a full-time paid fire chief. The commissioners discussed compensation and budget, as well as the cost of providing benefits.

The board supports the hiring of a full time chief, and will consult with attorney Brian Snure to clarify details, including examining matters of state compliance, and what benefits need to be supplied to a full-time employee. Attorney Snure will report back on what the District is legally obligated to provide, in terms of vacation allowance and health insurance.

The Commissioners expect to hear back from Snure in the near future.

In an effort to provide clearer communication channels to District volunteers, the commissioners are moving forward with a re-design of their web site. They have plans to hire high school student Kevin Murphy. A discussion about ensuring that the website has adequate security features followed.

The new website, along with the donation of a flat screen TV to be placed in the window of the fire station is all part of the commissioner’s interest in providing a more robust information stream about the District’s activities. In particular, the District plans to announce the ongoing volunteer training schedules, response call information, statistics, photographs and community announcements, all in the name of greater visibility within the community.

Progress on the application for a Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) ‘mini’ grant is moving forward. The commissioners are in the process of completing a narrative that requests a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)-approved washer and dryer. This washer extractor and dryer cabinet combination is especially designed for turnout gear (the protective clothing firefighters wear on the job). Soiled fire gear is is often contaminated with carcinogens, and there is a big push to have cleaning capabilities to ameliorate that. The dryer needs to be heavy duty to extract the water out, and the gear is hung to dry in a cabinet. A FEMA ‘mini’ grant is an award $50k or below, the commissioners estimate that this washer/dryer unit will cost roughly $25-30k including installation and delivery.

Plans to provide the washer/dryer service to other districts should bolster the grant application, demonstrating cost-sharing and coordination between Districts.

Waitsburg is now being consistently represented on the Walla Walla County Emergency Trauma Services monthly meetings, as City presentative Kate Hockersmith and Commissioner Randy Charles now regularly attend. The council includes area firefighting organizations, Washington State Department of Health, Providence Hospital, Walla Walla Community College, the South Central Region Trauma Care Council, and Fire Districts, #2-5 and is a monthly opportunity to connect, communicate and coordinate with emergency responders in Walla Walla county.

Topics discussed at Thursday’s meeting included cost-sharing opportunities for medicine and equipment as well as updates from those in attendance. The council is currently accepting applications for Spring Emergency Medical Technician class, the deadline for applications is February 22. Contact Heather Lee at for more information.


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