Photo of Puget Sound with Washington State ferry leaving Edmonds terminal.
Edmonds Fire Department
Department Overview
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Note: The following information contains data from 2005 and 2006.

ORGANIZATION

In 2006, 54 full-time employees are divided into five Divisions and two functions:

  • Administration (2)
  • Operations (38)
  • Advanced Life Support (12)
  • Fire Prevention/Public Education (2)
  • Volunteers (7)
  • Training
  • Fire Alarm Dispatch

The Fire Chief is responsible for Administration and Fire Alarm Dispatch, and serves as the City Disaster Coordinator. The Assistant Fire Chief, assisted by a Battalion Chief, is responsible for Operations, Advanced Life Support, Training, and Volunteers. The Fire Marshal is responsible for Fire Prevention/Public Education.

STAFFING

The Fire Chief, Assistant Chief, Fire Marshal, Staff Battalion Chief, Fire Inspector, and Executive Assistant work a regular, weekly schedule. There are 16 personnel assigned to each of three, 24-hour shifts. A minimum of nine Firefighters, two Paramedics and one Battalion Chief staff the three Fire Stations 24/7. Firefighters work a 48-hour per week shift schedule with a Kelly Day (off day) every seventh shift.

VOLUNTEER PROGRAM

As part of City-wide cutbacks in 2003, the Volunteer Program was reduced to non-paid status. Part-time Volunteers operate under the direction of the Assistant Chief. Volunteers are classified as non-combat, meaning they cannot be involved in direct firefighting operations; however, they respond to medical emergencies and as support personnel to help fulfill Department emergency and non-emergency missions. Several Volunteers are certified Emergency Medical Technicians who can help career personnel deliver emergency medical services (70-plus percent of emergencies) when multiple incidents or an escalating incident impacts career staffing levels.

There are currently 12 active Volunteers. In 2005, Volunteers spent 110 hours at emergency incidents, and logged 86 meeting hours and 799 training hours. Because they reside in or proximate to Edmonds, Volunteers are readily available and serve as an important augmentation to the on-duty force.

STATEMENTS OF PURPOSE

The Department has four statements of purpose in Standard Operating Procedure format including a Mission Statement, Vision, Values, and Customer Service Standards. Core values are:

  • Patient care comes first
  • Life takes precedence over property
  • Give the patient/victim/citizen the benefit of the doubt
  • Err on the side of caution
  • Send too much not too little
  • Practice safety at all times
  • Customer service is the most important service the Department provides.

These four documents describe organizational core values and may be summarized as BE FAST, BE GOOD, and BE NICE.

CORE MISSIONS

The Fire Department is the community crisis Department. A multi-mission organization, core missions include:

  • Advanced Life Support (Paramedic) and Basic Life Support (EMT) medical response, treatment, and transport
  • Fire suppression
  • Hazardous materials response
  • Technical rescue and extrication
  • Marine emergency response
  • All-hazard disaster preparedness and response
  • Fire prevention, fire and life safety education
  • Code enforcement
  • Fire investigation.

BUDGET

The 2007 Fire Department budget is $7,028,170. Fire and EMS operations are labor intensive. Salaries, benefits, and overtime to maintain minimum staffing constitute over 80 percent of the budget. Other parts of the budget include mandatory costs from outside service providers such as SNOCOM 911 Dispatch, or are cost-of-doing business expenses such as vehicle replacement, fuel, maintenance and repair, training, and communications.

EMS LEVY

In September 2002, 84.1 percent of 9,714 Edmonds voters elected to make the EMS levy permanent. In 2007, the EMS levy will generate $2,402,000.

OPERATIONAL CONCEPT

Firefighter/EMTs and Firefighter/Paramedics operate in teams. They carry the necessary tools and equipment to perform various missions onboard self-contained Fire Engines, Medic and Aid Units, the Ladder Truck, Marine 16, and support units. They function as emergency responders and risk managers, moving people, tools, and equipment around to complete the organizationís multiple missions.

Most calls require more than one unit to respond. Medic calls receive the closest Aid Unit and the Medic Unit. Motor vehicle accidents frequently require three units, and structure fires essentially empty the city and require automatic aid. Personnel and equipment not required, a determination almost always made after arrival on the scene of the first unit, are returned to service as soon as possible.

FIRE PREVENTION AND PUBLIC EDUCATION

The Fire Prevention Division conducts fire and arson investigations, reviews plans, inspects fire alarm and fire sprinkler installations, decommissions underground storage tanks, determines water flow and emergency access, and inspects new construction and remodels for fire safety. In 2005, the Fire Inspector and Engine Company Officers conducted 1,718 inspections with over 421 violations found and 395 abated. Inspections that raise occupant awareness and identify and abate fire hazards constitute 9-1-1 phones that do not ring.

Fire Prevention also offers a variety of fire- and life-safety public education programs. Fire Sirens, a weekly column written by Fire Services Executive Assistant Jeanne Startzman and made available to local newspapers, briefly describes emergency responses and includes fire-and life-safety preventive and educational messages.

TRAINING

The staff Battalion Chief is responsible for training. Training is the most important pre-emergent activity for a public safety agency. In 2005, Department members logged 9,226 training hours. Fire service operations and training and safety are strictly regulated and enforced by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, and include Fire Department-specific legal requirements enacted as the Washington State Safety Standards for Fire Fighters (Chapter 296-305 WAC).

Edmonds trains jointly with Lynnwood and Fire District 1 Fire Departments and other public safety providers in some common training areas such as rescue, hazardous materials, EMS, emergency operations, marine response, and incident command. The remainder of training is conducted in-house or with contract instructors. Each Engine Company is assigned annually to the State Fire Academy at North Bend for live-fire training. The presence of a full-time person dedicated to training and safety reduces the threat to Firefighter and citizen safety and risk of liability exposure. Under a dedicated Training Officer, emergency ground performance improves significantly. In Edmonds, we "Train Like We Fight and Fight Like We Train."

CROSS-TRAIN AND CROSS-STAFF

Firefighter/EMTs and Firefighter/Paramedics are cross-trained to complete the various Department missions. All Department vehicles are cross-staffed. Crews take the vehicles and tools required to complete the mission. The Department is a multi-dimension, multi-function organization. By training and equipping the same personnel to perform various missions, the citizen receives a greater return on their tax dollar in personnel, training, and performance. In December, 2003 seven Paramedics who integrated from Medic Seven became Firefighter I certified, capable of staffing both a Medic Unit and an Engine/Aid Unit.

REPRESENTATION

International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Union Local 1828 represents the Battalion Chiefs, Firefighters and Inspector. They work under a Collective Labor Agreement that is effective January 1, 2005 through December 31, 2007. The Executive Assistant is represented by Service Employees International Union Local 6 (SEIU). The Assistant Chief and Fire Marshal fall under Civil Service rules; the Fire Chief is an at-will employee. The Volunteers are unrepresented.

POPULATION SERVED AND DEMOGRAPHICS

The Department serves a resident population of 45,028: 40,360 in Edmonds, 1,165 in Woodway, and 3,503 in the unincorporated Esperance area (not updated since 2000 census). Edmonds’ age 65 or older population is 16.6 percent, higher than any other Snohomish County community (page 13, 2000 census). Due to their age and acuity of medical conditions, seniors are the main consumers of EMS services.

For planning purposes, the City Council adopted a population of 44,880 as the Edmonds Initial Growth Target for 2025. It is described as the “lower end of the range” (3/26/03 Council minutes). In 2006, the Edmonds Fire Department serves 45,028 in the city, Esperance, and Woodway; 148 more than the adopted 2025 growth target.

FIRE STATIONS

Three Fire Stations serve the city:

  • Station 16 at 8429 - 196th Street Southwest serves North and East Edmonds, and the 76th Avenue Corridor. Station 16 was occupied in 2003.

  • Station 17 at 275 - 6th Avenue North in the Public Safety Complex serves the Downtown, Waterfront, central city, Woodway, and East Edmonds. Station 17 was occupied in 2000.
  • Station 20 at 23009 - 88th Avenue West serves the East and South Highway 99 area, SR 104, unincorporated Esperance area, and the southeast part of the city. Station 20 was remodeled by Fire District 1 in 1992, and purchased by the City in 1996.

Fire Administration is located on the Third Floor of City Hall at 121 Fifth Avenue North in downtown Edmonds.

AREA GEOGRAPHY

Due to annexations, municipal boundaries have changed over the years to require three, strategically-placed Fire Stations. Fire personnel respond in a timely manner to medical emergencies and traumatic incidents to administer life-sustaining and life-saving heart defibrillation, oxygen, intubation, intravenous therapy, and drugs to those in need, and to contain incipient fires before they flash over, engulf the room of origin, and expand exponentially.

The City has three staffed Fire Stations because:

  1. City geography and the road access grids require it for timely EMS and fire response.
  2. Emergency units need to arrive in time to resuscitate non-breathing victims
  3. Emergency units need to arrive in time to confine fires to the room and/or area of origin.
  4. The labor contract requires three, open and staffed Fire Stations
  5. The Esperance agreement with Fire District 1 ($245,014 in revenue in 2005) requires three open and staffed Fire Stations.

APPARATUS AND VEHICLES

The Department operates one Medic Unit, two front-line and one reserve Fire Engines, three front-line and one reserve Aid Units, one Ladder Truck, one utility vehicle, one public safety boat (added in 2006), and six cars. The Engines/Ladder, Aid Units, and public safety boat are cross-staffed. Fleet Maintenance assesses monthly charges for staff vehicles' maintenance and replacement. Engines, Medic and Aid Units, and the Ladder are funded for replacement by annual allocations to the 511 Equipment Rental Fund from various sources while repairs, labor, and fuel are based on cost.

CLASS 4

The Washington Surveying & Rating Bureau evaluates Edmonds as a Class 4 fire protection city. The WSRB makes fire protection classification recommendations to its insurance company subscribers so they can establish annual fire insurance premiums for residential and commercial property-owners. Commercial properties are individually rated. The fire protection class is used in conjunction with the type of construction, occupancy, private protection, and exposure from adjacent buildings to determine the commercial classification.

Using a deficiency standard, the fire protection component rates community Fire Defenses and Physical Conditions in four areas:

1990 Survey:
Deficiency Points Assessed Against Edmonds
Component Edmonds
Deficiency
Points
Total
Deficiency Points Available
Water Supply 558 1,950
Fire Department 735 1,950
Fire Service Communications 174 450
Fire Safety Control 334 650
Climatic Conditions 52  
TOTAL 1,853 5,000

A Divergence factor (0) is computed when Water Supply and Fire Department ratings significantly differ.

The highest community rating is 1st Class; 10th Class is the lowest. In the last survey in 1990, Edmonds received 1,853 deficiency points out of a possible 5,000. Within budget, the Department is trying to upgrade procedures, record keeping, training, and equipment to prepare for the next WSRB survey.

CALL VOLUME

In 2005, the Department responded to 5,061 calls for assistance, or 13.9 calls per day. Of that number, 4,462 were Edmonds/Woodway/Esperance calls and 599 were automatic assistance calls to other jurisdictions. Of the 5,061 calls, 74 percent were EMS responses.

Emergency Response Data

Year Calls Calls
Per Day
Fire
$Loss$
1998 3,743 10.2  
1999 3,993 10.9 1,141,470
2000 4,214 11.5 1,321,470
2001 4,341 11.8 1,062,490
2002 4,445 12.1 574,930
2003 4,897 13.4 1,654,834
2004 5,148 14.1 1,257,862
2005 5,061 13.9 4,636,290

RESPONSE TIME

Edmonds’ 2005 average response time from dispatch to arrival was 7:55 minutes on fire calls and 6:15 minutes on EMS calls; an average that includes automatic aid calls outside of Edmonds and non-code calls made without lights and siren.

FIRE AND LIFE LOSS

Fire loss in 2005 totaled $4,636,290. The loss from the Gregory Condominium arson fire alone was $4,020,000.

DISPATCH

Emergency dispatch is provided by SNOCOM, a governing consortium operated by Edmonds, Brier, Lynnwood, Mountlake Terrace, Mill Creek, Mukilteo, and Woodway. Fire District 1 is a contract agency. The individual member assessment is based on a funding formula: 23 percent on assessed value, 23 percent on population, and 54 percent based on the number of responses. Within Edmonds, the annual increase is split 70-25-5 between Police, Fire, and Public Works, respectively. Councilmember Deanna Dawson chairs and Chief Thomas J. Tomberg serve on the SNOCOM Board.

FIRE AND EMS CONTRACTS

Edmonds provides fire protection and EMS services under contract to:

  • Town of Woodway
    • $309,156 contract in 2006
    • 69 emergency calls in 2005
    • contract in effect since 1984
  • Fire District 1 for the Esperance Area
    • $244,0273 contract in 2006
    • 216 emergency calls in 2005
    • contract in effect since 1996
    • 20-year agreement signed in 1995 to purchase the Esperance Fire Station
    • in 2006, will pay Fire District 1 $65,953 on the 20-year note for the station

AUTOMATIC AID

Edmonds has formal automatic aid agreements with Fire District 1/Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood to share resources and automatically send the closest available units to emergency incidents regardless of jurisdictional borders. In more traditional mutual aid agreements, mutual aid is requested from surrounding jurisdictions when the scope of a single incident or series of incidents exceeds the resources of the responsible agency.

A more advanced version of mutual aid is automatic aid in which the closest unit(s) is sent automatically by SNOCOM without being requested, without regard to jurisdiction, and without charge or payment among fire service co-operators. In 2005, Edmonds provided 725 units, and received outside assistance from 607 units.

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS

The Fire Chief serves as the Disaster Coordinator and chairs the Board of the Emergency Services Coordinating Agency (ESCA). ESCA provides emergency management services and is charged with coordinating regional response to area-wide disasters. The communities served are Brier, Edmonds, Lynnwood, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo, and Woodway, and Kenmore and Lake Forest Park in King County. The funding formula is based on population.

SUPPORT SEVEN

Started in 1973, the Support Seven Program is a volunteer Chaplain ministry composed of 30 local residents who are trained to care for victims who have experienced an unexpected crisis or traumatic event. Support Seven not only cares for victims, family, and friends after a significant emergency event, but also provides on-scene canteen and rehabilitation services for emergency personnel. In 2005, Support Seven responded to 60 requests for assistance in Edmonds.

EDMONDS FIRE SAFETY FOUNDATION

Founded in 1995, the Edmonds Fire Safety Foundation is a non-profit group of local citizens involved in charitable and educational causes related to the various Department missions. Over the years, the Foundation has been extensively involved in fund-raising activities that include the purchase of three Thermal Imaging Cameras, water rescue suits, self-contained breathing apparatus voice amplification units, smoke detectors, rescue saws, cutting tools, safety vests, illuminated traffic cones, and heavy-rescue tools. Every dollar the Foundation raises to acquire emergency tools and equipment saves taxpayers' money and enhances the level of emergency response and performance.

In 2003, the EFSF conducted a special campaign to raise over $10,000 to reacquire the restored 1938 Ford Fire Engine that served Edmonds into the 1970s. In 2004, the Foundation sponsored the Fire Department Centennial, celebrating 100 years of uninterrupted service to Edmonds.

In 2005, the Foundation spent $25,016 on items the Department was unable to acquire through the budget process to include seven Automatic External Defibrillators for placement in City Hall, the Police Department/Council Chambers/Courts Building, Frances Anderson Center, Yost Pool, the Edmonds Library, and Senior Center.

In 2006, the Foundation raised over $14,000 to equip the public safety boat, Charles W. Cain, named after a Foundation founder and long-time Edmonds businessman and community volunteer.

DONATIONS

Edmonds is made up of very generous people. Each year the Fire Department receives donations from community members in appreciation of superior service or to remember a loved one or friend. All donated funds are used to acquire tools and equipment to enhance the delivery of emergency service to Edmonds citizens. Donations can be made to the Edmonds Fire Department, 121 Fifth Avenue North, Edmonds, WA 98020.

GRANTS

In 2005, the Fire Department received the following grants:

  • $199,152 Department of Homeland Security Assistance to Firefighters award to acquire 36 Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus
  • $2,059 State Homeland Security Grant Program award of pharmaceuticals for use by first responders in case of biological attack
  • $30,701 State Homeland Security Grant Program award for patient tracking in case of a mass casualty incident
  • $2,125 Medic Seven Foundation award to acquire Continuous Positive Airway Pressure emergency respiratory equipment
  • $1,290 State of Washington Emergency Medical Services Trauma award to acquire EMS tools.
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City of Edmonds logo. Last modified:  December 09, 2006