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Consultants Recommend Changes to Kirkland Fire Department

Kirkland City Council members will get a first look at the draft Fire Department Strategic Plan at a study session Tuesday.

Editor's note: Information provided by the city of Kirkland.

The Kirkland City Council will get its first look at the draft Fire Department Strategic Plan produced by Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI).

The report concludes an extensive study of the department’s current organizational conditions, analysis of future service demand, and an assessment of future opportunities for cooperative service delivery.

At its Study Session on Sept. 4, the Council will receive a presentation on the report and provide direction on the process the City should use to determine which recommendations should be implemented and how and when to implement those strategies. The Study Session begins at 6 p.m. and will be aired live on K-GOV, Comcast Channel 21 and Frontier Channel 31, as well as online.  The report and meeting video can be found at www.kirklandwa.gov.

The draft report notes that Kirkland Fire Department (KFD) is a high-quality organization that has the potential to be a great organization. The report integrates organizational and community ideas and describes several key findings and recommendations including:

  • Community and city representatives are supportive of the KFD and understand the importance of the fire suppression, emergency medical response, fire prevention, emergency management and other services it provides. ESCI recommends that the department enhance internal and external communications efforts to better inform and engage the community. 
  • Fire and emergency medical functions are providing services at a level similar to surrounding agencies. However, the high volume of calls for emergency medical services can hamper response to fire calls and often requires that KFD seek mutual aid assistance. Response to the north Finn Hill area is generally below target response times and the plan to relocate Fire Station 25 (Holmes Point) will create service gaps in other areas.  ESCI recommends that Kirkland explore the potential for creating a jointly-staffed fire station with the Northshore Fire District. 
  • The Fire Prevention Bureau provides a high level of development review services, but is not able to conduct annual fire inspections for all occupancies. ESCI recommends that Kirkland consider adopting a new ordinance requiring fire sprinklers in all new residential construction as an effective fire prevention strategy.
  • KFD’s current response time standards are inconsistent with the resources they have at this time. As a result, response time standards should either be adjusted to reflect a standard achievable with current department resources or additional personnel and equipment should be added to enable the department to meet adopted response time standards.  Additional fire station staffing should be added in the northern and southern portions of the city.

The Fire Strategic Plan contains a total of 90 recommendations. In the coming months, City staff and elected officials will work together on reviewing the findings and recommendations and developing a plan to implement those recommendations that are feasible.  Should you have specific questions, please submit a “Ask a Question”  (www.kirklandwa.gov/depart/CMO/question) or contact the City Manager’s Office at 425-587-3001.

Karen Levenson September 04, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Fire Safety: Very Important to our community - Left off of Potala EIS in spite of neighbor requests during the appropriate comment periods. Since the EIS is supposed to independently evaluate all impacts of the proposed development, and since neighbors specifically requested that the review look at all safety concerns including police and fire, this information should definitely have been included in the DEIS. Hopefully it will make its way into the Final EIS. While this report is very long, I've identified a few pages which specifically identify those things that make a low or moderate risk area become high fire risk or even maximum fire risk. It appears that building a building as big as Potala is an independent risk making it Maximum Risk rather than the Moderate risk that the "Residential Market" definition would have held. It also indicates that residential density is a VERY significant independent risk again moving not only the property, but the whole neighborhood community into the highest risk category. Other areas for fire risk comments in EIS should have been the additional narrowing of 10th Ave S when the consultants acknowledged additional parking on that street (narrowing of streets identified as impeding response and 10th would be an access street). Daytime traffic is also identified with greater traffic impeding - EIS should have commented on this since LOS C degrades to LOS E and many properties cannot be accessed unless rescue / fire comes along LWB.
Karen Levenson September 04, 2012 at 05:42 PM
I meant to provide the City Council E packet and reference pages as they would apply to Potala See E pgs 20, 62, 63, 159, 162, 205 and 235 http://www.kirklandwa.gov/Assets/City+Council/Council+Packets/090412/FullPacket090412.pdf
JuneGloom September 04, 2012 at 07:06 PM
Regarding the last item, it sounds as if this report supports the continued staffing of the Holmes Point Firehouse, instead of finding a site for a new one. Members of the community suggested this as well. "KFD’s current response time standards are inconsistent with the resources they have at this time. As a result, response time standards should either be adjusted to reflect a standard achievable with current department resources or additional personnel and equipment should be added to enable the department to meet adopted response time standards. Additional fire station staffing should be added in the northern and southern portions of the city."
Bryan Willman September 04, 2012 at 07:15 PM
While nobody is in favor of house fires, there *IS* a limit to how much sould be spent, in tax dollars, AND in burden of regulations. There will never be zero fires nor zero fire losses. So the question is NOT "how to get to zero" - the question is "Given a particular rational level of spending in taxes and private costs, how best to efficiently deploy it?" Maybe some of the fire stations need to move. Maybe new dwellings should be further apart. And maybe traffic will be the dominating issue in fire safety. But I really have to wonder if there is support or economic depth to afford a world in which the fire marshall comes to your house every year and it's required to have sprinklers. What next, a rule that all houses have sprinklers and monitored alarms? How much are sprinkler makers and alarm companies paying in lobbying for these rules?
Bryan Willman September 04, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Oh and by the way, has any such consultant EVER written a report that says "you spend too much" or "your fire stations are well placed leave them where they are?" What other biases are there in such consulting reports? (Not to say that Finn Hill may not need an additional fire station, it might. And shutting down Holmes point seems ill conceived.)
Bea Nahon September 04, 2012 at 08:15 PM
I believe that the sprinkler recommendation is for new construction, not existing homes

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