Six new firefighters joined Clallam County Fire District 3’s ranks this month.
They include: Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician Tyler Campbell; FF/Paramedic Chris Darling; FF/EMT Jon Donahue; FF/EMT Paul Lang; FF/EMT Colton McGuffey, and FF/EMT Bo Pinnell.
Fire Chief Ben Andrews said all of the new hires are “excellent” firefighters chosen from a competitive field.
“With the list we had to choose from, it was hard to choose just the six from the strong candidate pool,” he said.
Clallam County Professional Firefighters IAFF Local 2933, Sequim’s firefighters’ union, reported that the six started an eight-week academy this month as a precursor to starting their new shifts.
Each of the new hires were born or raised on the Olympic Peninsula, and four of the six were volunteers with the fire department prior to their hiring, fire officials said.
Applicants participated in a two-week interview process including various interviews and background checks.
The hiring brings Clallam County Fire District 3 to 39 full-time firefighters/EMTs and firefighters/ paramedics.
Andrews said two of the new hires fill vacancies after retirements, one previous and another later this month.
Funding for the new positions was made available by voters approving increasing the fire district’s general levy rate from $1.26 per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2018, and renewing the district’s Emergency Medical Service levy for 10 more years starting Jan. 1, 2021.
“The lid lift and renewal gave us enough room,” Andrews said.
After these hires though, they won’t be adding more staff for the time being, he said. However, fire officials did apply for a matching grant for three more positions called SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The district will find out this fall whether they get the grant or not, Andrews said.
With the new hires, he said, the district does not have a surplus of staff.
“We still need to hire more in the future,” Andrews said.
While calls continue to come in, he said, there hasn’t been “an enormous amount of demand on 9-1-1” related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re nervous about what could happen in the fall,” Andrews said.
“It’s really changed life around the fire station: Everyone is getting their temperatures taken and we’re decontaminating after calls.
“It’s kind of changed how we look and go about things.”
Fire, City of Sequim and Sequim School District officials closed down the Emergency Coordinating Center in the Guy Cole Event Center on Monday, May 4.
Andrews said they continue to work on a response and plans to the pandemic from their respective agencies’ offices.
For more information about Clallam County Fire District 3, call 360-683-4242 or visit ccfd3.org.