Longtime Arlington Fire Department member Dave Kraski was appointed Fire Chief for the department on Dec. 17.
Kraski had been serving as acting fire chief for the last 15 months.
“It’s funny because people have asked how the new job is, but it’s really the same as I have been doing for the last year,” he said.
“It was exciting to make it official and move forward,” he said.
Kraski began volunteering at the fire department in 1991 and was hired as a firefighter in 1995.
In 1999 he was promoted to captain where he had served until 2017, when former Deputy Chief Tom Cooper retired and Kraski took over the role.
“I was excited for it, although a little reluctant because I enjoyed what I was doing before,” said Kraski.
Just a couple of months later former Fire Chief Bruce Stedman left the department for a different agency.
“The end of 2017 certainly had a lot of challenges,” said Kraski, as he adjusted first to the Deputy Chief position and then stepped into the acting Fire Chief role.
“But it was fun and rewarding at the same time,” he said.
Kraski said 2018 went well for the department and that they “got a lot of things done in many different areas.”
The department re-organized their EMS contracts with neighboring districts like Silvana, Arlington Heights, Darrington and Oso where they provide some emergency support.
“We re-did all their EMS contracts because over the decades they were all different,” said Kraski.
“It’s now a fee structure based on usage, which had never been done before,” he said.
Two new aid cars were brought into the department in 2018, said Kraski.
Arlington Fire was also able to surplus a number of vehicles. “We weren’t using them anymore and it was nice because we needed the space,” he said.
For the future of the department, Kraski said that they will continue to look for opportunities to partner with other nearby districts.
“Nationwide there is a lot of consolidation going on and there is not as much need for every community to have their own fire department,” he said.
Although talks to form a Regional Fire Authority with the Marysville Fire District failed, Kraski said they have been strengthening a partnership with North County RFA, a Regional Fire Authority that covers Stanwood, areas around Silvana and areas north of the city of Arlington.
“In early 2019 we’re hiring a medical services administrator and they’re hiring a fire marshal. We both have the need for those positions, but neither of us have the funding or the workload,” said Kraski.
“So we’re going to share them … the two will work in both jurisdictions,” he said.
North County RFA and the Arlington Fire Department plan to share a community resource paramedic later in the year as well.
“If the crews are reporting seeing an individual more frequently than they should, a community resource paramedic can go out and see what is going on,” said Kraski.
The purpose is to see if anything can help reduce emergencies, for example providing handrails to prevent an elderly individual from falling injuries if they are frequently calling paramedics for those types of emergencies, said Kraski.
“That is an exciting program because it should help decrease call volume,” he said.
Kraski said his favorite part of working in Arlington and in the local fire department has been the community ties, which he plans to keep supporting.
“We have a very strong community tie, for example the Santa Run,” he said.
That event is put on by volunteers from the fire department and around the city. “This year was a record amount of food, with over 10,000 pounds,” said Kraski.