BIFD leaders say social media information inaccurate

  • Saturday, July 24, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

On June 26, Bainbridge Island Fire Department responded to a structure fire on the south end of BI.

Members arrived and began suppression operations. This incident necessitated a multi-agency response, the standard practice among the Kitsap County fire agencies when a large fire is in progress. BIFD crews remained on scene for over 16 hours for suppression, overhaul and the fire investigation. The men and women from the various fire agencies, but in particular BIFD, performed in a manner commensurate with their training and maintained the highest standards of professionalism.

We, the undersigned, wish to express our sympathy to a family that must now endure the complicated process of rebuilding their home. We are thankful that no one was injured. Yet, what makes this incident difficult for the men and women of the BIFD is the disinformation regarding this fire on social media. By implying that the BIFD does not meet the standards necessary to protect the citizens of BI, one individual denigrates the leadership of Fire Chief Hank Teran, the work performed by firefighters at this fire, and the daily work discharged by BIFD career and volunteer members.

Suggestions that the BIFD administration has failed in its attempt to acquire volunteers to meet the needs of the community belie the truth. Unlike any that might be found on social media, here are the facts:

• From 2008-21, the BIFD recruited and trained 116 volunteer members.

• An additional 12 members will be onboarded after completing the BIFD academy, slated to commence in September.

• 27 of those members remain with BIFD.

• 34 have moved on to become career firefighters, eight of whom work with BIFD.

• 11 left for non-fire department positions.

• 22 left for personal reasons.

• 22 resigned due to their training deficiencies.

The current roster of BIFD members includes:

• 43 full-time employee responders: 34 career firefighter/emergency medical technicians and nine firefighter/paramedics. The minimum daily staffing level for career firefighters is nine.

• 20 volunteer firefighter/EMTs.

• Two Emergency Medical Services-only volunteer/EMTs.

• Eight Special Services volunteers.

• BIFD employs a full-time volunteer coordinator.

• BIFD trains volunteers to a Firefighter 1 credential at the State Fire Academy in North Bend or holds an in-house Firefighter 1 academy at Station 23 on BI. BIFD attempts to conduct this training on an annual basis or as recruitment permits.

In 2011, Chief Teran and volunteer coordinator Jay Rosenberg represented BIFD in Atlanta after it was awarded the Tony Pini Diversity and Inclusion award. That year, the award was bestowed to only four departments among the 40 that were nominated throughout North America. BIFD received this award for its outreach to off-island volunteer members.

As the pool of interested and available BI-resident volunteer members diminished, the calls for service increased. BIFD sought to acquire and train volunteers from the broader off-island community. These volunteers committed to and provided service for BI residents, working alongside BIFD career members and other volunteers.

Every citizen of this community should feel safe, knowing that a well-trained, well-staffed and highly professional career and volunteer combination Fire Department provides the service taxpayers expect and demand. Historically, public confidence in the BIFD has been demonstrated by overwhelming support for general EMS, and capital levies. The BIFD and the community have always maintained a close and strong relationship. Under the stewardship of Chief Teran, this department has become a Fire Service regional leader and a model for agencies seeking to utilize volunteers. We hope you are proud of this department, the work it has done over the past 13 years, the high standards our members hold, and the daily service it provides you and your families.

The noise on social media should not alter that view or obscure the facts.

Maureen Halligan, Gina Batali, Dan Morrow, Paul Bang-Knudsen, Glen Tyrrell, David S. Coatsworth

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