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Station 72 increases coverage of Surfrest area
POULSBO — Poulsbo Fire officials say staffing the department’s Station 72 in the Surfrest area had become an increasing issue because of the economic challenges of the past several years.
After evaluating the staffing challenges at the station, Fire Chief Jeffrey Griffin and the department’s leadership team came up with a more effective solution to provide better coverage for Surfrest residents and residents of the northern portion of Fire District 18.
“On average, the station was only open 40 percent of the time,” Griffin said. “We want the best possible coverage for the community in that area. Our goal has always been to staff the station full time and now, due to a lot of dedicated leaders and a stronger volunteer program, we have increased the staffing to an average of 12 hours a day, 88 percent of the days.”
Griffin and the department leadership found a creative solution to not only dramatically increase staffing coverage, but increase that coverage during the hours of the day when 70 percent of the calls occur. Since two firefighters are required to staff a unit, the additional hire can pair up with the one extra firefighter, who is already on duty, to staff an engine or medical unit out of Station 72.
“We hire one career firefighter, paramedic, or company officer for the first 12 hours of the shift,” Griffin said. “By hiring the one additional person during this time, we are able to open and staff Station 72 during the period that covers more than 70 percent of our calls department-wide.
“In fact, battalion chiefs were reporting to the station to spend the night in order to have some additional presence.”
Another contributor to the doubled coverage in the area is the increase in volunteer firefighter presence. PFD and North Kitsap Fire & Rescue were recipients of a federal SAFER grant which provides funding for the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. This grant, under the leadership of Jay Melrose, has enabled the department to add volunteers to the program.
Putting all of these programs together, Griffin said the station was staffed on 88 percent of the days, an improvement from the 40 percent from just a few months ago. Ultimately, the goal of the district is to staff the station 24/7.
“These are some huge strides in the right direction,” Griffin added.