FD3 serious about 24-hour coverage in 2005

South Whidbey residents will be protected 24 hours a day and seven days a week if Island County Fire District 3 commissioners and Chief Dan Stout has anything to say about it.

During Thursday night’s fire commissioner meeting, Stout presented a preliminary report on staffing fire stations 24 hours a day with qualified first responders.

The district began talking about a program in 2002 to have at least one person in two of the district’s stations — Freeland and Clinton — during the night. Referred to as a “sleeper program,” it would ensure quicker response time to emergencies, according to Stout.

But getting to that point is going to take some serious planning and possibly hiring part time staff.

Stout presented results of a survey sent recently to all volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians in the district to determine if there was enough people interested in staffing the stations.

Stout said each month there would be 60 shifts to fill.

“We probably have enough to work night shifts, but not the day shifts,” Stout said.

Filling the night shift is not a problem. It’s during the day when people are working.

For that reason the district may decide to hire part time firefighters to fill shifts when there are no volunteers.

“We would need a roster of part timers to call on for daytime shifts when volunteers aren’t available,” he said.

Some of the volunteers have expressed interest in the part time paid positions.

A lot of details of the program are yet to be determined. Stout said he will be looking at the financial impact on the district.

It would not be fully implemented until 2005.

In other business, commissioners OKed developing a position for a paid training officer. Some of the duties will include those that Darin Reid former FD3 volunteer and Whidbey General Hospital paramedic fulfilled before taking an assistant chief’s position on Camano Island.

Stout said he will recruit for that position beginning in July or August and will fill it by October. Salary and specific job requirements are yet to be determined.

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