Clallam County Fire District 3’s leaders plan to add three fire engines to their fleet with the caveat that it’s going to take some time for them to arrive.
Interim fire chief Dan Orr said they anticipate the three new trucks — 2025 Spartan “Star Series” Pumper apparatuses — being delivered in about 500 days.
“They have to build them out,” Orr said. “The reason it’s so long is that with an uptick in Covid, the factory is worried they’d have to close for 30 or 60 days, so they have built it into the schedule.
“They’re trying to approach and deal with it from a bigger world perspective.”
Fire commissioners agreed to purchase the trucks on Sept. 5 for about $3.4 million from True North Emergency Equipment, with half the payment down upon purchase and the other half on delivery.
Commissioners and district staff previously commented on how engine prices were more than they were anticipating. Fire commissioner chair Bill Miano said Spartan Emergency Response was one of the quickest options for new engines.
“This is the quickest and cheapest and most practical,” Miano said.
The purchase agreement follows a recommendation from an Apparatus Committee working the last two-plus years on an upgrade/replacement plan for district vehicles, particularly three engines from 2004 and 2008 at stations 33, 34 and 37.
According to district documents, the committee’s goal was to extend the engines’ lifespan by moving them to reserve/volunteer positions. Those engines deemed too old for regular fire service under state and federal guidelines would be sold, Orr said.
“We can sell them but not for a tremendous amount of money,” he said. “There’s not a lot of miles, but they’re well used.”
During their research, firefighters wanted to find an engine similar to a 2008 Sutphen fire engine with some improvements, district documents state. They eventually went to Spartan’s facility in Oregon, drove different engines and met with company officials about their recommendations for the new engine builds.
Orr said they have funds available for the engines now, but they felt it’d be better to put half down now and let the other half earn interest.
The district listed its 1.96-acre East Anderson Road property for sale earlier this month through Mark McHugh Real Estate for $165,000 following fire commissioner’s approval on Sept. 5.
The property was originally set for a new volunteer Dungeness Station 31, but district leaders said they are looking at a different area following analytics to better serve the area.
District officials are also working with Clallam County staff to rezone 5.1 acres on the 100 block of Sieberts Creek Road just north of the Conestoga Quarters RV Park so it can be sold, too.
Miano said it needs to be rezoned for residential so it can be sold. Originally, the parcel was set to become a replacement site for Station 32 on U.S. Highway 101.
Land sales could help lessen costs associated with building a new Carlsborg Station 33 at the Training and Operation Center, district officials said.
They’ve also made plans to send hundreds of letters to Lost Mountain residents about potentially selling the long-unused Station 36.
A public meeting is set for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 9, at the station at 40 Texas Valley Road.
In Orr’s letter to residents, he writes that the station hasn’t had a volunteer since 2021, and it must have six volunteers living within a 5-mile radius of it to be considered an active volunteer station.
It’s been used for storage, he writes, and that fire commissioners perceive the property “as an inefficient allocation of district assets” but they want to ensure “effective communication of their intentions and rationale behind the sale to the local community.”
Fire commissioners also approved a new memorandum of understanding between the district and its firefighters to operate a trial work schedule next year in an effort to lessen fatigue and sleep deprivation, and improve mental health.
In January 2024, firefighters will begin a 48/96 shift schedule where they’ll work two consecutive 24 hour shifts (48 hours total), and have four days (96 consecutive hours) off duty.
It will run through Dec. 31, 2024, and the union and district must negotiate if it will continue by Oct. 1, 2024.
According to district documents, Clallam County Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2933 leaders approached the district to change the work schedule about a year ago.
Chris Corbin, a firefighter and president of Local 2933, said in an email “this schedule has the potential to be extremely beneficial to firefighters.”
“I could not be more pleased with our commissioners and fire chiefs for giving us the opportunity to trial it in 2024,” he said.
“It has become an extremely popular schedule with departments around the nation for several reasons.”
Those include firefighters having more quality time with their families, less fatigue, and decreasing work commutes.
“(This) means more mornings taking our kids to and from school (and the) same with our kids’ extracurricular events,” Corbin said.
Under the existing schedule, firefighters have 24 hours off before their next shift, which is repeated three times, he said.
“Studies have shown that your fatigue actually increases over that period due to insufficient sleep and time off to recover,” Corbin said.
Sequim’s expensive and tight real estate market is also more than what new and some veteran firefighters can afford, so some firefighters are commuting from out of the area.
“This (schedule) allows people the opportunity to commute to work less frequently and it actually makes us more attractive to potential employees that cannot afford to live here but also do not want to commute two hours to and from work six times in a regular work cycle,” Corbin said.
The schedule change will cost about $66,000 more in 2024 following contract negotiations, the district reports.