Lt. Tom McMackin & Chief Tim Darland
HPFD Highlights & Accomplishments in 2019
Lieutenant McMackin and I were talking at Station 1 the other day, and we began to reflect on the department activities over the last year. With every activity mentioned, we could see each other’s face light up with a sense of pride for the department and for our community. We also spoke about the loss of two wonderful people that have given so much of their time and energy for the betterment of our community. And we realized that as a department we are very fortunate to have a strong community council (HPCC – High Prairie Community Council) supporting our efforts. The support we have is clear, with all the time and effort HPCC and other volunteers have put in during 2019. Everyone can take pride in the accomplishment of the fire district’s long and short-term goals, as well as the realization of hopes for improving the quality of life and safety for all here on High Prairie. Since you are all supporters of the High Prairie Fire Department in one way or another – by volunteering, paying taxes, and with monetary donations – we want to share with you the highlights and accomplishments of the last year.
Fire District volunteers responded to 96 calls in 2019. The types of responses will be tallied up over the next month and reported in the April High Prairian. We were fortunate in that we experienced a minimum number of fire responses within our district boundary over the last year. We can say with confidence that our community members were vigilant in reporting smoke sightings, making smart decisions on when they used gas powered equipment and paying attention during severe fire weather conditions when red flag warnings are issued. All these well-thought-out actions enhance the protection of life and property not only for you but your neighbors as well. A huge thank-you to all for making our volunteer firefighting jobs much easier and safer!
In March, we accepted the keys to KCFPD 14 Schilling Road Station, hereafter referred to as Station 2, from the contractor. The May dedication, with special guest Gina Mosbrucker and 60 members of the community, marked the completion of 16 years of effort to create Station 2. It stands today as a milestone for what we can accomplish as a community of volunteers working together. It showcases the efforts of individuals to foster political support to secure Washington State funding totaling $434,000. Our Fire Commissioners’ involvement has been key in the success of this project from the beginning and provided research, reviews and oversight to the project manager. Fire district secretary Glenna Scott was also a major player, keeping on top of multiple business processes to ensure we met all requirements of the Department of Commerce, who was administering the state funds.
Although completed in fall 2018, we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the “Rain Cavern” project as the water source to Station 2. Working together, with the past and present fundraising activities of the HPCC and the considerable time, material support and hands-on efforts of High Prairie residents, we accomplished this goal of creating a safer community by expanding fire service protections for our residents on the east side of the fire district. This also expanded the 8A fire protection rating with its insurance cost savings for all residents within a 5 mile radius of our two stations.
Between May and September, due to the Wahkiakus bridge repair, the HP fire district volunteered to protect additional property outside our boundary for residences which normally fall within the Klickitat fire district. No responses to the area occurred throughout the summer, while great improvements to Schilling Road were being completed by the County for safer ingress and egress by residents and fire personnel. In addition, I certainly appreciate the county chip-sealing Schilling Road to Station 2, which was not in the original county road improvement plan.
Expiring firefighting equipment has been at the forefront of the fire district’s concerns over the last year. In particular, SCBA’s (self-contained breathing apparatus) bottles were set to expire. The SCBA packs and masks were recertified, and 19 new SCBA bottles were purchased at a cost of $19,000. We were helped in this immediate effort by the HPCC donating all the proceeds of the Oktoberfest to the fire department. Their donation of approximately $2,500 was accepted by the Fire Commissioners at the December meeting. Ongoing efforts continue by the department to find grants or other funding sources to upgrade our SCBA equipment to align with 2018 National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards.
In 2019 the fire district received grant funding from Northwest Farm Credit Services to replace tires on the Aid vehicle and to purchase a portable fuel tank for the Command rig. This allows us to keep fire apparatus operational in the fire district and to ensure the apparatus stay on the fire line during extended incidents.
Generous donations by residents occurred throughout the year and we are so thankful. In memory of Tom Doll donations were received in the amount of $1,400. These donations will be expended to purchase protective personal equipment for our volunteer firefighters. Tom was a pillar of our community and he is greatly missed.
The sudden loss of Jake Jakabosky, High Prairie’s KCFPD 14 2018 Firefighter of the Year, was a shock to our High Prairie community. It was most deeply felt in the members/brotherhood of firefighters of the department. Jake’s smile, knowledge & experience, dedication and commitment to safety and resolve that every responder returns home from every incident will greatly be missed. I was truly honored to emcee the ceremony to celebrate Jake’s life, as he gave the last 12 years to the Fire Department. We miss you and we know you are keeping an eye on us during every call.
I do want to thank HPCC’s involvement, dedication and consistent generous support for many of the 2019 functions with the High Prairie Fire Department and community events. From helping build the rain cavern, to hosting the firefighter appreciation dinner and the Station 2 dedication ceremony, to the Oktoberfest donation, to name a few, all their efforts are vital to the success of the fire department and our community. Thank you for all your time to volunteer! It has been a privilege to work with such a dedicate group of volunteers. Amazing how much we can accomplish as a community by working together.
I want to personally thank the Fire Commissioners, support staff, department officers and our volunteer firefighters. We all have given many volunteer hours in support of our community and I am grateful for your service and dedication. It has been an honor!
As we roll into 2020 it is my sincerest hope that we can build on the impressive accomplishments of this year, the history of exceptional community service and the commitment to the safety, welfare and security of our High Prairie homes and those of our neighbors. BTW, check your batteries in your smoke detectors and keep your chimneys clean. Happy 2020!