North County Outlook - Community newspaper serving Marysville, Arlington, Tulalip, Smokey Point, Lakewood

Local fire districts send crews to state wildfires


Courtesy of Arlington Firefighters IAFF local 3728

One of the Arlington Fire Department's fire engines sent to eastern Washington to support the fire fighting efforts in front of some of the wildfires.

Local fire districts like the Arlington Fire Department, the Getchell Fire District and the Arlington Rural Fire District lent a helping hand to Chelan last week as they sent crews to help battle the wildfire.

The wildfires raging in the state were declared a federal emergency and threatened thousands of homes in the state.

"Much of the state is being impacted by conflagration," said Arlington's public safety director Bruce Stedman.

He said a call for assistance was put out to multiple districts and the Arlington Fire Department responded by sending one of its fire engines and three crew members.

"They asked for help just like we requested for assistance during the Oso [landslide] incident, so we sent people to help," he said.

Initially the Arlington Fire Department crew was stationed near Chelan to do structural protection of buildings but they were moved to Okanogan to do a similar job over there.

Stedman said they worked to protect buildings mostly.

"Essentially they will go into a neighborhood and if there's firewood or brush or anything that will help spread the fire they will try to remove it to make it a defensible space, or if there's fire approaching they will try slow or stop its approach," he said.

The Arlington Fire Department rotated out their crew during the Aug. 22 weekend.

This is the first time the Arlington Fire Department has mobilized resources for state protection in some time, said Stedman. In the five years he has been with the department he said he has never seen it.

Local crews had been training in wildfire fighting techniques because they anticipated trouble.

"We knew this has been a difficult wildfire season so we've been training our firefighters and preparing for a wildfire," said Stedman.

He said that the timing of the training was fortunate as many Arlington firefighters became certified at fighting wildfires recently and are now able to help respond to the call for assistance.

"We just completed that whole process," he said.


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