Chief Joe Sanford is a few months away from celebrating 40 years as a firefighter. The biggest change over four decades? The fire itself.
“The rate at which fire burns has changed, mostly because the furniture in modern homes is often made with synthetics,” he says. “We need to arrive at fires faster — it’s gone from a 30 minute response time to five minutes.”
The composition of modern furniture also has an affect on firefighters’ health, because it may release hazardous toxins when it burns.
“Cancer is now the leading cause of death for firefighters on the job,” Chief Sanford says. “When I was hired, it was fire.”
It’s been nearly 40 years since Chief Sanford became a firefighter, and nearly 30 years since Kirkland City Council asked voters to help fund Fire and EMS. Voting YES on Kirkland Proposition One will provide resources and infrastructure upgrades that will help first responders adapt to the changes Chief Sanford has witnessed.
“We’ve seen tremendous support from the public through the pandemic. We’re just blessed beyond imagination,” Chief Sanford says. “Most firefighters get into the job because they really want to serve. There’s very few jobs where you can make such an immediate and profound difference, on what’s likely one of the worst days of someone’s life. Most firefighters I talk to say it’s just the best job on the planet.”
Voting yes on Prop 1 brings:
- 20 additional firefighters and a new aid car: Hiring more staff better protects the city and improves response times, by making it easier to respond to multiple calls without calling in help from stations farther away.
- PPE: The COVID-19 pandemic depleted Kirkland first-responders’ supply of personal protective equipment, and voting YES on Prop 1 allows these first-responders to replenish supplies of gloves, masks and other essential gear.
- Station improvements: Four of the five fire stations in Kirkland are currently not up to seismic code, and also in need of health and safety modernizations. Firefighter gear is often exposed to toxic substances, and Prop 1 will allow that gear to be cleaned and stored in a specially designed room to protect first responders from toxic substances. Improved ventilation will also help keep diesel fumes out of living areas.
- Relocate Station 27 east of I-405: Relocating Station 27 improves response times by spreading resources strategically throughout the city. The location would also be crucial in a catastrophic event — particularly if the freeway were to collapse. The City already has a site secured for Station 27, if Prop 1 is approved.
“The bottom line is that Proposition 1 will save lives and better serve the city,” says Mayor Penny Sweet. “It’s a recommendation that was developed by the community, for the community.”
The levy would cost approximately $.23 per $1,000 of home value, or $14.25 a month for the owner of a median-valued Kirkland home. Learn more about Kirkland Proposition 1 at www.saferkirkland.org or at facebook.com/saferkirkland.