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Fire district gets first grant ever

POULSBO — While Kitsap County Fire Prevention District No. 18/Poulsbo Fire recently accepted its first grant in the history of the department, more than just the fire district will be benefiting. The district and the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s office hope to make the public more aware of the importance of fire prevention.

The fire district received a grant award of $120,208 Jan. 14 from the U.S. Fire Administration, part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under the Department of Homeland Security. It was the largest grant awarded in Washington State during this round of fire prevention awards from FEMA.

Initially, the Kitsap County Fire Marshal’s office wanted to apply for the grant but it didn’t meet one of the application requirements — being a fire district.

So Kitsap County Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Derrick Crawley got on the horn with Fire District No. 18 Chief Jim Shields to discuss how they could collaborate.

“I felt no one was taking advantage of those funds earmarked for fire prevention,” Crawley said.

Kathleen Byrne-Barrantes, a local grant writer contracted through Kitsap County, was asked to write the proposal.

Byrne-Barrantes worked with George Avila, CEO of Poulsbo-based Action-Training Systems, which creates instructional products for firefighters, and learned how write a fire prevention grant.

The funds will help the district and county improve their fire prevention services, starting with a public education officer in Fire District No. 18. The individual, who has yet to be hired, will also use the software and hardware purchased with the grant money to help further this effort all over the county.

Tools the district will add through the funding include 10 handheld Global Positioning Systems that will be used to gather information, such as the conditions of buildings. This information would then be put into Kitsap County’s existing Geographic Information System. The system would provide firefighters around the county with accurate information about locations and buildings, including their contents, potential hazards in the area, the number of fire hydrants, how many occupy the building and floor plans.

The fire district will also attain this information throughout the county by working with high school and college students, starting with North Kitsap High School.

Part of the grant money will go toward hiring students from the schools’ Computer Assisted Drawing classes as interns to help acquire the information.

It’s a logical process, Shields said, as the schools have CAD classes and the kids need projects to work on. Students and fire officials will work together on fire planning techniques such as creating floor plans of buildings, pinpointing the gaslines, electrical and propane systems and highlighting any fire hazards throughout the structure.

Based on the information, the students can create a computer-assisted drawing with the information, which will eventually be accessed by firefighters from the fire engines and command vehicles when called to incidents, Shield said.

“All this information now is at a fingertip touch,” he said.

Other purchases with the grant money include:

• Firefighter training programs and related equipment from Action-training Systems

• Computers and other high tech equipment for multi-media production and presentations for education programs within the Poulsbo station

• Fire extinguishers and smoke detectors for residential and commercial buildings and installation

The fire district has between Feb. 1, 2004 and Feb. 1, 2005 to use the money.

Crawley and Shields were scheduled to sit down Tuesday and discuss the details of the programs.

“We haven’t figured it out specifically,” Crawley said. “It will continue to be a cooperative process and (we’ll) make the decisions jointly.”

While this is the first time the fire district has applied for a grant, Shields said he felt it is the district’s stepping stone to applying for more grants.

“I was pretty confident that we were going to get it and now I’m just elated we’ll be able to take this concept and put it towards the community,” he said. “It will benefit the citizenry.”

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