Assistant Chief Bob Low Announces Retirement
After 20 years, four fire districts and a variety of roles, East Jefferson Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Bob Low is hanging up his helmet.
“East Jefferson is an extremely well-run fire department and I’m proud to have been a member here, but after a tough decision, my wife Barb and I decided to retire and move back to the San Juan Islands.”
A/C Low joined EJFR in 2012 after having been Fire Chief at Jefferson County Fire Protection District 2 (Quilcene). During his tenure at EJFR, he tackled several major challenges.
Low joined the Department as it ramped up the replacement of the Chimacum Fire Station. He played an important role in coordinating the deconstruction of the old station and the site preparation and construction of its replacement.
In addition to his responsibilities as Assistant Chief, Low also led EJFR’s Fire Prevention and Inspection program, bringing in new technology to streamline the fire inspection and reporting process. As a result, the Department has been able to accelerate the pace of inspections in the county and City of Port Townsend.
Between those monumental tasks, he carved out time to join the Chief and Deputy Chief in duty chief rotation, responding to hundreds of incidents throughout the region.
Replacing Low will be a challenge, according to EJFR Fire Chief Gordon Pomeroy. “Bob filled several important roles for us and it’ll be tough to find a qualified replacement,” Pomeroy said. “As the designated Fire Marshal, he had made great inroads with City leadership and the fire inspection program. It’ll be critical to keep our momentum in that area.”
Chief Pomeroy said that the Department will begin a search for A/C Low’s replacement in late Nov., with a goal of bringing someone on board by Low’s departure on Jan. 31, 2014.
Business Catches Fire on Sims Way
Tobacco Accessories & More building burns
The building housing Tobacco Accessories & More in the 1400 block of Sims Way burned in a mid-day fire Tues. There were no injuries.
East Jefferson Fire Rescue was toned to the fire at 12:12 p.m. after an employee at the business called 9-1-1.
The employee stated that a regular customer walked into the store and asked if she had a fire extinguisher. She said ‘yes’ and gave it to him. He then went outside. When she followed him out, she saw that the corner of her building was on fire.
After unsuccessfully attempting to put the fire out with the extinguisher, the customer turned to her and said, “this isn’t working, we need to call 9-1-1.”
Firefighters arrived to find the structure heavily charged with smoke and flames in the southeast corner of the structure.
The initial flames were quickly knocked down, but fire between the ceiling the roof proved stubborn to extinguish and firefighters were forced to open the roof with tools and saturate the interior.
The fire was under control by 12:35 p.m.
The Aquafina business sharing the building with Tobacco Accessories suffered smoke damage but no water or flame damage, according to EJFR Assistant Chief Bob Low.
A pumper engine from Jefferson County FPD #5 (Discovery Bay) happened to be in the area and responded with EJFR units. A total of four engines and 16 firefighters responded to the call.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
A 58-year old woman was taken to Jefferson Healthcare for evaluation after her house caught fire Mon. morning. There were no other injuries
East Jefferson Fire Rescue was toned to the fire in the 50 block of Jonathan Place at 8:28 a.m. and firefighters arrived to find flames in the ceiling above the kitchen stove.
An offensive attack quickly extinguished the flames and firefighters spent the next 10 minutes tearing out ceiling sheetrock and saturating roof timber.
Before she was transported to the hospital, the homeowner stated that she had recently purchased a new stove which was hard-wired by an electrician. She also stated that she hadn’t used the stove that morning.
An initial examination by fire investigators showed that the fire started in the general area of the wall behind or above the stove. A more extensive investigation is under way.
Firefighters from Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue and Naval Magazine Indian Island assisted EJFR units on the fire. A total of 16 fire personnel responded to the incident.
RV Burns At Sea Breeze
A Winnebago recreational vehicle caught fire and burned at Sea Breeze Mobile Home and RV Park Mon. evening.
East Jefferson Fire Rescue was toned to the 500 block of Hendricks St. in the park at 9:22 p.m. after a neighbor noticed the fire and called 9-1-1.
Firefighters arrived to find flames shooting out the roof of the RV but quickly knocked the fire down, preventing damage to other recreational vehicles parked nearby.
The owner of the 1972 Winnebago Chieftain was absent at the time of the fire, but was notified and returned while firefighters were overhauling the scene.
He stated that he had left an old portable heater on when he left the vehicle about an hour and a half before. He commented that he didn’t trust the old heater and shouldn’t have left it unattended.
The destroyed RV was not insured, but the owner stated that he had recently purchased a fifth wheel trailer and had planned to move into it soon.
Twelve firefighters from East Jefferson Fire Rescue responded to the incident.
In honor of the upcoming Washington state First Responders Day, representatives of the Jefferson County Association of Realtors visited Station 15 on Tuesday to deliver gift baskets to EJFR and the lucky members of B Shift.
Association member Nell Clausen delivered a brief message of appreciation to firefighters in attendance and, amazingly enough; several firefighters were willing to join in a photo op.
Thank you Jefferson County Association of Realtors!
A mobile home in the Port Hadlock-Irondale area suffered heavy damage after a morning fire Nov. 21. There were no injuries.
According to the four residents of the house, a wood-burning stove had been lit earlier in the morning.
When one resident came out of her bedroom after 9:00 a.m., she saw smoke against the ceiling of the living room and small “candle-like” flames where the stove pipe exited through the ceiling.
After going outside, they found the roof on fire.
The residents fought the blaze with fire extinguishers and also attempted to use a garden hose, which proved to be frozen solid and useless. They called 9-1-1 at approximately 9:35 a.m.
Firefighters began an offensive attack, entering the structure and tearing down ceiling sheetrock to access the flames in the ceiling.
The fire was brought under control after about 15 minutes, but not before the structure suffered significant damage from flames, smoke and water.
Twenty-one firefighters and command staff from East Jefferson Fire Rescue, Naval Magazine Indian Island and Jefferson County FD 2 responded. A unit from Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue responded to provide district coverage at the EJFR fire station at 9193 Rhody Dr. during the incident.
The initial focus of the fire investigation is the wood-burning stove and pipe exiting through the ceiling and roof.
New Wally Westergaard Fire Station Grand Opening a Success
EJFR hosted two events the weekend of Oct. 26, introducing the new $1.6 million Wally Westergaard Fire Station to the community. Both were rousing successes.
On Friday, EJFR held a luncheon at the station for 60 members of the Chimacum community who had been involved with the fire district in the past, as well as local dignitaries from the region.
At the luncheon, Fire Chief Gordon Pomeroy dedicated one room of the new station the 'Commissioner Jess Bondurant Training and Meeting Room,' presenting the plaque to Commissioner Bondurant's widow, Pat. The plaque will be permanently fixed outside the meeting room.
The luncheon also featured Ms. Paula Sorbel from Jefferson Healthcare who presented Chief Pomeroy with a 'Thank You' plaque from the hospital, expressing appreciation for outstanding pre-hospital care provided by EJFR personnel.
After lunch, officials led tours of the station.
The Fire Department opened the station up for the entire community on Saturday with an open house from 10:00 a.m. til 3:00 p.m. An estimated 250-300 people took advantage of the beautiful weather and came out to tour the station, practice using a fire extinguisher and eat hot dogs and cake.
Feedback about the station was overwhelmingly positive, with many members of the public stating that they had watched the construction over the past year and were excited at the opportunity to finally come inside and check it out.
Car Fire at Evergreen Fitness
A car was destroyed after catching fire in the parking lot of Evergreen Fitness Center early Thurs. morning.
East Jefferson Fire Rescue was toned to a reported car fire in the 20 block of Tahlequah Rd. at 8:35 a.m.
Firefighters arrived to find the car, a 1988 Dodge station wagon, fully engulfed in flames.
The fire was quickly knocked down but not before the car was totaled.
The owner of the vehicle had purchased the car about one month ago for $800 and stated that until the fire, it had been running great. He had driven it to the fitness center at about 8:00 a.m.
A subsequent investigation determined that the fire was believed to have originated in the area of the car’s battery.
10/1 - Station 11 is finished! Workers completed final touch-ups during the week of Sept. 23 and firefighters began moving apparatus, furniture and equipment into the station a couple days later.
Permanent Burn Ban Now Includes Irondale/Port Hadlock Areas
A recent discovery by Olympic Region Clean Air Agency (ORCAA), that portions of Irondale and Port Hadlock had been designated Urban Growth Areas (UGA), has prompted the agency to ban all burning in those areas of Jefferson County permanently.
In a letter addressed to Jefferson County Fire District 1 (East Jefferson Fire Rescue) Chief Gordon Pomeroy, ORCAA stated that in 2006, they “notified residents and fire protection agencies” about the law “in the 17 known UGAs” within their jurisdiction. (Washington State Legislature enacted a law [2005 Washington Revised Code RCW 70.94.743 (1) (b)] that prohibits both residential yard waste burning and land clearing burning in all UGAs within the state as of January 1, 2007.
The letter goes on to state that “ORCAA only recently learned that the Irondale/Port Hadlock area is designated as an Urban Growth Area.”
“We are as surprised as anyone at this news,” said Chief Pomeroy.
The Jefferson County Department of Community Development’s website explains that “prior to the completion of the 2002 Comprehensive Plan amendment cycle, the only UGA in Jefferson County was the City of Port Townsend. Planning to accommodate growth in the Tri-Area of Jefferson County, which includes Chimacum, Port Hadlock and Irondale, has long been a topic of discussion.” The ordinance establishing Irondale/Port Hadlock as an Urban Growth Area was adopted in 2009.
For a map of the Irondale / Port Hadlock UGA, click here.
Effective July 1, outdoor yard debris burning has been prohibited in Jefferson County Fire Rescue District 1. No open burning is ever allowed within the city limits of Port Townsend.
The initial burn ban runs from July 1 until Sept. 30. Depending on weather conditions within District 1, the ban may be extended further.
During the period of the burn ban, violators may be assessed fines of up to $14,915 per day for each violation. They may also be held responsible for the cost of putting out the fire which can cost thousands of dollars.
Burn permits are not required within the boundaries of Fire District 1. Knowing and following the guidelines is, however, a requirement. The guidelines for burning in East Jefferson County can be found at every fire station in District 1. Stations are located at Lawrence & Harrison Streets in Port Townsend; Jacob Miller Road; Cape George, Marrowstone Island; Chimacum and Airport Road. Outdoor Burning Guidelines can also be found online at www.ejfr.org. Alternatives to outdoor burning are also listed in the guidelines. Maps of all Jefferson County no-burn areas can be found on ORCAA’s website at www.orcaa.org. Current burn ban status can be found at WaBurnBans.net.
ORCAA is planning to post signs in the county’s UGAs to create greater awareness about the outdoor burn ban. For more information about the permanent burn ban in the Irondale/Port Hadlock areas, contact ORCAA at 1-800-422-5623 or visit their website www.orcaa.org.