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East Pierce Firefighters IAFF Local 3520
Friday, 19 December 2014
PRESS RELEASE: RE: FIRE FIGHTER LAY-OFFS - 18 December 2014
By Matthew Lowery, East Pierce Firefighters IAFF Local 3520
1:13 AM PST, December 19, 2014

It is sad and disappointing that the fire district has taken the drastic step to lay off 7 personnel one week before Christmas.  This is a situation that did not have to happen.  We have offered the fire district 1.3 million dollars in wage, contract and working condition concessions and the district has made the choice to reject that offer and lay off personnel instead.  At a time when we are already severely understaffed, this only makes the situation worse and puts citizen and firefighter safety at risk.  This year the department has spent more than 3 times what was budgeted on overtime, laying people off will only make that situation worse and cost even more money.  We have a strong track record of giving concessions when the district is having a hard time financially and this year is no different, for whatever reason, unlike in years past, the district has rejected all of our offers to help. We are willing to try and find a solution to the problem that allows everyone to keep their jobs, and we hope the fire district feels the same.

 

Mike Westland

President

IAFF Local 3520
Monday, 1 December 2014
The traditions and the changing times. Santa Run 2015.
By Matthew Lowery, East Pierce Firefighters IAFF Local 3520
10:06 PM PST, December 01, 2014

Every year for at least the last 30 years, the firefighters from the various areas that now make up East Pierce Fire & Rescue have put on the annual event called the "Santa Run". This event was started by the volunteer firefighters and then was carried on as the areas grew and transitioned to full time career firefighters.


The "Santa Run" consisted of firefighters driving Santa around on a fire engine, playing holiday music, lights & sirens blaring and handing out candy canes to the people we serve. Many citizens have numerous memories of this event, and even planned family gatherings around it. Our Union members who put this event on donate their time, money, and invite their own families, many who have also made it their own tradition to participate in this yearly event. Unfortunately, the way most people know this event, it must now change.


The writing has been on the wall for a few years now that the logistics to bring Santa on a fire engine, to as many streets, neighborhoods, and complexes as possible, its getting harder and more difficult to do. In the past the firefighters would deliver Santa to as many neighborhoods in the areas of Milton, Edgewood, Sumner, Lake Tapps, Bonney Lake, Prairie Ridge, South Prairie, and all the places in between that East Pierce Fire & Rescue serves. It would take almost all members volunteering their time, and the entire month of December all the way up to the Saturday before the Christmas Holiday in order to ensure the events happened. Higher call volumes, more citizens, larger areas to cover, and scarce resources has lead to us making a change that we hope will be the new tradition we can transition too. Instead of bringing Santa on the fire engine around all the cities, towns and neighborhoods, we are going to have Santa at a fire station near you on a set day, set time, and of course with candy canes, opportunities for pictures and smiles. As always, the firefighters will continue to do our best and participate in the localized city events, such as tree lighting ceremonies, the Sumner Bridge lighting, and the various parades. This event is important to us, and we hope that you will understand, and help us to start a new tradition.


Thank you.


If you have feedback on this event, or any others that our members put on, please dont hesitate to contact us at President@iaff3520.org.


 


Here is the schedule for 2014's Santa Event at your local firehouse. 


 


Dec. 7 Station 14 - NW Lake Tapps area, 3206 W Tapps Dr E, 1PM - 3PM 


Station 15 - NE Lake Tapps area, 1605 210th Av E, 3PM-5PM


 


Dec. 13 Station 13 - City of Sumner, 800 Harrison St, 1PM-3PM


Station 11 - Headquarters/City of Bonney Lake, 18421 Veterans Memorial Dr E, 3PM-5PM


 


Dec 14 Station 12 - Prairie Ridge, 12006 214th Av E, 1PM-3PM


Station 16 - West Buckley/Foothills area, 10515 234th Av E, 3PM-5PM


 


Dec. 19 Station 19 - Town of South Prairie, 350 SR 162, 6PM-8PM


 


Dec. 20 Station 18 - City of Edgewood, 10105 24th St E, 1PM-3PM


Station 114 - City of Milton, 1000 Laurel St, 3PM-5PM


 

Saturday, 17 May 2014
Staffing and Why It Matters To You
By Mike Westland, East Pierce Firefighters IAFF Local 3520
10:17 AM PST, May 17, 2014

Staffing and Why It Matters To You

Do you know what level of staffing your fire department provides and do you know why it is critically important?  Every day East Pierce Fire and Rescue has 23 people on duty to cover 6 stations, approximately 152 square miles, and to provide protection to over 87,000 citizens.  EPFR runs over 8,000 calls each year.  The National Fire Protection Association Standard 1710 states that we need 4 people per engine.  Currently, East Pierce Fire and Rescue has as a minimum of 2 person engine companies.  Clearly we are not meeting that standard.  Regionally most departments run with a 3 person minimum.  Our goal is to increase our staffing levels to a 3 person minimum so that we can provide better service to our citizens. 

What do all these numbers mean, in real life terms to you?  Under state law, if a fire engine showed up to your house while it was on fire, and you or a loved one was trapped inside, we could not come in and rescue you because we only have 2 personnel on site.  We would have to wait for an additional crew to arrive.  When you consider that fire doubles in size every 30 seconds, the time it takes us to get an effective force on scene is critical.  Being understaffed is risky for the citizens we are sworn to protect, and is risky for the firefighters that are tasked with putting fires out. 

There are other considerations besides structure fires as well.  When you look at the above numbers, you can see that we are spread very thin in order to provide coverage to our district.  Emergency medical calls do make up the majority of our calls.  It is common in our district to have multiple calls going on at the same time.  The fewer people we have on duty, means we need to send multiple units to get the right number of people to handle the call.  That means the likelihood of the closest unit being available to help you is decreased.  When you or a loved one is having a serious medical issue, time is critical.  Getting to the scene with the right number of people as quickly as possible is important.  Even a simple medical call takes 4 or 5 personnel at a minimum. 

Please watch the attached video; it further illustrates the need for adequate staffing.  As always, if you have any questions, please ask.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wuhMbdpH1sw

Sunday, 4 May 2014
Local Reporter earns her graduation from FIRE OPS 101
By Matthew Lowery, East Pierce Firefighters IAFF Local 3520
12:34 PM PST, May 04, 2014

FIRE OPS 101 is an event where firefighters take policy makers & media to a training facility and show them what it takes to do the work of firefighters. On May 1st, your East Pierce Firefighters invited local reporter Theresa De Lay from the Bonney Lake/Sumner Courier-Herald to the Volpentest HAMMER Fire Training Facility in Hanford, WA and put her to work as a firefighter for a day. Mrs De Lay did a wonderful job, and overcame some of her own personal fears as she completed the work of a firefighter. It was great working with her. Below are some pictures from the event.

The work of firefighters is time critical, highly technical, and labor intensive. The 6 event stations that were set up were designed to show the diverse, and multifaceted work that we as firefighters face. The 6 stations included vehicle extrication & patient treatment, cardiac arrest patient managment & transport, roof operations & vertical ventilation, building fire search & rescue, interior firefighting, and fires involving flammable liquids. Participants in the event ranged from elected city council members, mayor, state legislators, print reporters, and tv reporters.  As firefighters we want to have the people, training, tools and equipment to save lives. This event helps to show the people who are tasked with making decisions that affects public safety that the work is not just a line item in a budget. We are very thankful to all who attended. At the end of the event all participants received a graduation certificate and a fire helmet.  Congratulations to all!

 

 

 

 

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