Published October 05, 2012
Public can see facility for Lacey fire on SaturdayCHELSEA KROTZER
People who live or who travel near Lacey Fire Station 32 off Yelm Highway likely have noticed activity at the site, which has been all but empty for six years. The fire department used grant funding to hire two firefighters to live at the station. They’ll have access to an engine and a new water tender, bolstering response for the area. The public is invited to see the facilities and meet the firefighters Saturday at the station. “We can’t guarantee staffing 100 percent of the time, but it will be better than before,” said Chief Steve Brooks. “We hope to have a more consistent presence.” A 2,500-gallon water tender and a manufactured home built in 2011 were purchased with a $300,000 grant awarded in December by the Nisqually Tribe. Funds from a $650,000 Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergence Response (SAFER) Grant went toward the hiring of three resident-volunteer firefighters, with room for two more at the station. The selection process for a third volunteer is under way. Once all three have been hired, there will be a volunteer firefighter available to work during each of the district’s three shifts. Saeng Pion, 22, of Seattle was the first to move in. When he did so a few weeks ago, it was a change from his two years as a resident volunteer with the East Olympia Fire District 6 fire station. The East Olympia station is bustling with career and volunteer firefighters during each of the three shifts. Moving into a manufactured home on the outskirts of town was a big transition. “There was always stuff going on and always people around,” Pion said. “When I first started living here, I was just by myself.” Since starting with Lacey fire, Pion has accepted a part-time position with the East Olympia fire district and also works part time with Olympic Ambulance. He does all the work to make himself a more attractive hire down the road. “Firefighting is very competitive,” Pion said. “That’s why I do all this stuff.” Fellow resident volunteer Jake Shay, 19, of Port Angeles, moved onto the station’s grounds last week. A student in the McClane/Black Lake fire program, Shay is following in the footsteps of his uncle, a career firefighter in Pierce County. “This is the best job experience you can get becoming a career firefighter,” Shay said. “If there is a call that goes on while we are at home, we will go.” The resident volunteers are required to pull at least seven 12-hour shifts per month to compensate for rent. Any shifts beyond that will be stipend, similar to what a regular volunteer gets. The stipend is $50 for 12 hours, $100 per 24 and $10 per call for those not working a full shift. Regular volunteer firefighters typically work three or four 12-hour shifts per week. Pion said he hopes to pull at least seven 24-hour shifts each month, something he was used to with East Olympia. “You learn something new every day,” Pion said. “Everyday is different; every call is different.” The resident volunteers also are in charge of yard work and cleaning of the station and equipment. Both volunteers were cleaning the station’s 1,000-gallon fire engine, which dates to 2004, Wednesday. The engine has almost double the water capacity of a traditional engine, given the remote area Station 32 serves. Both volunteers are set to complete driving certification training at the end of October. After that, the engine and tender will provide a combined 3,500 gallons of water for future fires, giving 10 minutes worth of initial attack before backup crews arrive, fire department figures show. The only other tender in Lacey Fire District 3 is 23 years old and stationed at headquarters off Franz Street.