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Local fire districts form academy


February 21, 2018 | View PDF

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Marysville Fire District firefighter Genevieve Cox, left, and Capt. Matt Campbell work on drills about how to carry ladders during district training on Jan. 17.

Local fire districts may have a closer fire academy to certify their recruits this year as Snohomish County districts are working together to form their own training academy.

South Snohomish County Fire and Rescue, which covers the Edmonds and Lynnwood area, is hosting the academy.

"However, it will be instructed by people from all over the county," said Arlington Fire Department Deputy Chief Dave Kraski.

In previous years there had been only one academy for the state.

"Previously, the primary place was the Washington State Fire Academy in North Bend [a small town in central King County]," said Kraski.

Although some alternatives existed, there was nothing available in the county.

The limited amount of space has become a problem for many local fire districts.

"The number of spots available did not meet the demand there was for new firefighters," said Kraski.

"It's been an issue getting people into the academy," said Battalion Chief Todd Furness with the Marysville Fire District.

Furness said that every department has retirements coming that will necessitate more hires.

"Lots of districts around the state are suffering attrition and increased staffing needs as well," he said.

About 10 departments around Snohomish County are training recruits this year at the local academy, said Furness.

"So that tells us the need there is for this county academy," he said.

The new academy is scheduled to start in March this year and continue until June.

Kraski said potential firefighters will learn the core curriculum at the academy and come out with a Washington State Firefighter I certificate (the basic firefighting skills certificate).

Local officials hope that the academy brings benefits to fire districts and departments.

"The top priority is training our own people," said Furness.

"It will make operations in the county overall more effective. With less duplication of effort and so everyone knows what each other is doing," he said.

Kraski said the training can be better localized as well.

"We can train our firefighters in things we do here that they may not do in say, Spokane," he said.

The Marysville Fire District and other local fire service providers have been cooperating more in recent years, said Furness, so having consistent training with your neighbors is important.

"We have started to work more with all the departments in the county," he said. "When we're out on a call together we need to do it all in the same way, so this helps us work together."

There may also be cost-savings for local districts and departments.

"Proximity is a huge benefit ... it eliminates the need for housing," said Kraski. The North Bend academy includes housing and food costs, but those are not necessary with a closer academy.

"Now they can go to their own residence between training," said Kraski.

Furness said that the costs for the first year will likely not be a reduction from previous years though.

"The initial cost will not be less, but once we have a system down and in place the estimate is that the cost will reduce," he said.

Kraski wanted to thank South Snohomish County Fire and Rescue for starting the process to form a new academy.

"We're excited that South Snohomish County Fire took on this project," he said.


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