Category Archives: Fire

Firefighters carry the weight of the community


I don’t think there’s a nice way to put this. So here goes: The weight of the community has taken its toll on the backs of the city’s firefighters.

Put simply, people are getting heavier, in Bremerton and around the country. And when they have medical issues that require a ride to the hospital, the city’s fire department must be able to lift them inside the back of the ambulance. Bremerton Fire Chief Al Duke told the City Council Wednesday that back issues are a primary concern for the department, and illuminated the problem with this example: a 500+ pound resident here in the city has been transported by crews this year 54 times.

It has gotten to the point that Duke successfully argued at Wednesday’s meeting for three power-lifts that will do the job mechanically when attached to a gurney. The cost to city residents: $124,000.

Bremerton isn’t the first agency in Kitsap to get the gurneys, Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue already has them, Duke said. There’s likely others, too, he added.

The City Council was supportive of the move. Councilwoman Leslie Daugs said it will indeed prevent back injuries. Councilman Richard Huddy said that two-thirds of Americans are overweight. The measure to fund the gurneys, made by Michigan-based Stryker EMS, passed 6-0 at Wednesday’s meeting.

The City Council also approved the fire department’s refurbishment of two ambulances by installing new Dodge Diesel Chassis within them. Doing so will cost $269,000 as opposed to $450,000 for new ambulances, Duke told the Council.

Both the gurneys and ambulance refurbishments are funded through a $4.5 million public safety bond passed by voters in November 2015. The bond raised property taxes in the city by 22 cents per thousand dollars of assessed property value, and will also fund new vehicles, trucks and improvements at fire stations.




Edgewood Villa fire: what you can do to help


A devastating fire ripped through one of the buildings at Manette’s Edgewood Villa apartments on Monday, leaving 16 people without a home, the Red Cross says. 

The cause of the fire has been determined to be discarded cigarette butts left in a cardboard box on one of the balconies, according to Bremerton Fire Marshal Mike Six.

Many people have asked me how they can help. I’m compiling a list of resources here so you can contribute on your own terms. If I have forgotten any, please go ahead and drop me an email at I’m hearing food and toiletries are more important right now than clothing and furniture.

The Red Cross is also working to coordinate plans for donations. They were able to help two of the 16 with shelter last night at Peace Lutheran Church, and supported 11 families financially to get lodging, according to Dave Rasmussen, disaster program manager.


“We’re still in response mode,” he said. “But we know people in Kitsap County, and particularly Bremerton, want to help.”

Here’s some ways you can do that:

The Manette Neighborhood Coalition has set up a GoFundMe site where you can contribute financially.

The Allstate Insurance office of Betty Skinner, 4181 Wheaton Way, Suite one, is accepting donated items to give to the fire victims. Clothing, personal toiletries, gift cards and more will be accepted. Open regular business hours. For more information, call (360) 479-9850.

Rejuv Salon & Spa,1007 Scott Ave. Suite B, is also a “drop spot” for clothing, linens and other donations. It’s open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. through Thursday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Their phone number is (360) 405-0293.

If you’d like to stick to donating to the Red Cross, Rasmussen told me you can call their Bremerton office (811 Pacific Avenue) and they’ll make a list of everyone who would like to donate. Rasmussen emphasizes that financial donations are of critical importance, as they help families just like the ones at Edgewood Villa get immediate housing, clothing, food and supplies. Their phone number is (360) 377-3761.

Newlife Church in Manette will host a free community dinner at 5:15 p.m. Saturday at Mountain View Middle School. All donations will be donated to the fire victims. Facebook has the details.

Ed’s West Sound World

kanye west sound.jpg

Evel Knievel represents the Kanye West Sound

Consolidating three distinct fire and rescue agencies isn’t easy.

However, picking a single name for the new super agency that may emerge on the opposite end of the process is not one of the harder parts.

On Tuesday the regional fire authority’s Planning Committee voted unanimously on its name: West Sound Fire and Rescue.

It seems like an obvious choice, and Bremerton Fire Chief Al Duke said more than 80 percent of firefighters, commissioners and committee members voted for the name.

But it wasn’t always such an obvious choice to describe our neck of woods, where the skyline of Seattle is more prominent than in Renton, but farther than a crow could fly culturally.

In fact, the committee credits a certain longtime Kitsap Sun reporter, Ed Friedrich, with coining the term.

“We believe the term West Sound, used to describe our region, originated in the late 80’s when it was first coined by then Bremerton Sun prep sports reporter Ed Friedrich to describe our sports coverage area in Kitsap, Jefferson and Mason counties,” says a written statement from the regional fire authority.

Despite being coined by a journalist, the new name went over like sliced bread, Bremerton Fire Chief Al Duke said (Duke didn’t actually say anything about bread, sliced or otherwise). More than 80 percent of those with a say, including firefighters, commissioners and appointed committee members, voted for the name.

“Now the hard work begins,” he said, noting that sub-committees have been tasked with making recommendations about 1) combined finances, revenues and expenses 2) combined governance board 3) combined volunteer association 4) combined labor groups and 5) combined organizational structure.

More info is available at the new West Sound Fire and Rescue Web site.

“If the Planning Committee is able to reach consensus on how these three fire departments can consolidate and meet the vision and strategy, then final approval will be put to the citizens served by these three organizations before it becomes a reality,” the statement said.

That means those served by the Bremerton Fire Department, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue and South Kitsap Fire and Rescue will get to vote on whether the consolidation goes through.

The Planning Committee will meet March 4 at 4 p.m. at the Kitsap Readiness Center at 1211 Carver St. in Bremerton. The meetings are open to the public.

However, within the newsroom, there is some disagreement over who actually coined the phrase. Sports Editor Chuck Stark said he believes Harlan Beery, former assistant sports editor, actually came up with “West Sound.”

“They were both on the sports staff at the same time,” Stark said.

Then again, it’s just a name. What did Shakespeare say about the smell of a rose? Would they smell as sweet if instead they were called Ed or Harlan?