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Arlington Fire Dept. conducts inspection


Christopher Andersson

Firefighter/paramedic Bob Beam, left, shows Arlington City Council member Marilyn Oertle, center, and Snohomish County Council member Ken Klein some of the contents of an Arlington EMS vehicle during Fire Chief Bruce Stedman's annual inspection on Nov. 4.

Arlington Fire Chief Bruce Stedman and other Arlington officials took a tour of local fire stations and equipment to inspect maintenance and training procedures in the department.

City Council members and other elected officials met with staff that was on hand, looked at three of the department's stations and all of their vehicles.

Fire department staff showed some of their new technology and practices, like new battery technology for hydraulic rescue tools (sometimes known as the Jaws of Life).

The portable power supplies makes rescue operations quicker, said Arlington Fire Department Captain Jason Nyblod.

"It really saves time ... you just show up, grab them [the tools] and start cutting," he said.

At first there was concern about the reliability of the batteries, he said, but they've lasted long and don't require charging often, said Nyblod.

Arlington firefighter/paramedic Bob Beam also talked about the department's training in naloxone (a.k.a. Narcan), which helps reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.

Beam said that more doses are being used for some cases these days.

"Because Fetanyl is the big thing right now it can take a lot more Narcan then usual to bring them back," he said.

Stedman hoped to show how the department is fighting the epidemic of cancer among firefighters.

"There's a big push right now ... we do have a serious issue in America with cancer and firefighters, so we're putting in these protocols to reduce that chance of getting cancer," he said.

Cancer is the leading cause of death for active firefighters right now, with many theorizing that when modern synthetic chemicals burn up, they release carcinogens in the smoke.

Since Stedman has become chief of the department, he has been working to change procedures like washing firefighter suits to help prevent exposure to those carcinogens.

Keeping firefighters alive is the number one priority, but it also has a secondary benefit of reducing liability for the city.

"If we get sued the cost will go to the city and taxpayers with increased rates," said Stedman.

Stedman also toured the department's three stations. Station 46 is five years old now and Stedman said it was still pretty good for it's age for a facility that is run around-the-clock.

"When comparing to a regular business depreciation you're looking at a factor of three here," said City Administrator Paul Ellis, because the building is being used for 24 hours per day instead of eight.

The inspection serves as one way of ensuring the department's service, said Stedman.

"I'm responsible for ensuring that we're providing these services," he said.

Well-maintained buildings and equipment also help with the pride of the organization as well.

"Pride definitely has a impact on the service we provide for the community," said Stedman.

"If we feel really good about what we're doing and proud of what we're doing, we do provide a better service to the community."

Finally, it gives a chance to connect with elected officials from the city and County Council.

"So they have that confidence in me as a fire chief and you as firefighters that we are using the resources allocated to us well," Stedman told some of the firefighters of the department.


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