Councilmember Herbold vows to fight for West Seattle fire resources

Sep 29, 2022, 2:40 PM

fire resources...

Seattle Fire Department (KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

City councilmember Lisa Herbold expressed concerns over Mayor Bruce Harrell’s priorities in his newly-pitched budget proposal, particularly with the distribution of firefighter resources.

“As we move into the first budget season with the Harrell administration, among my areas of focus is ensuring firefighters get the resources they need to perform their life-saving duties,” Herbold said in a statement.

Harrell’s first two-year budget proposal included a 20% boost to the Seattle Police Department budget and additional funding to cover a 50% increase in the number of Seattle Fire recruits.

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Herbold stated she supports spending more to increase the size of the next class of fire recruits in theory, but not the way it appears in the mayor’s budget proposal.

When the West Seattle Bridge closed in March 2020, Harold had internal discussions with Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins about whether another ladder truck was needed for the peninsula.

“I was grateful then that Scoggins championed the safety of District 1 with his decision to place a ladder truck for the peninsula at Fire Station 37, in the Highpoint neighborhood, and a medic unit at Fire Station 26 in South Park,” Herbold said. “However, with the release of the proposed budget on Tuesday, it appears that those resources are proposed to be removed at the end of 2022 and used instead for training more recruits to SFD.”

Herbold still supports the idea of paying for more fire recruits but stressed existing resources must be protected.

“The historically underserved areas that receive life-saving assistance from our first responders at Fire Station 37 and Fire Station 26 need these resources in 2023,” Herbold said. “Without the ladder truck at Station 37, there is only one ladder truck to serve all of West Seattle.

“The nearest medic units are Medic 28 in Rainer Valley and Medic 32 in the Junction, far away from the Delridge neighborhoods, Arbor Heights, and South Park. As our population continues to grow, it’s critical that we reevaluate the need for new resources.”

Herbold noted that many constituents are concerned, including a longtime firefighter serving on Fire Station 37.

“Without the ladder truck at Station 37, there is only one ladder truck to serve all of West Seattle — if it’s not already dispatched on a call,” the firefighter wrote in his message to the City Council. “This means that responses requiring extrication, fire-related search-and-rescue, fire ventilation, and other ‘truck’ abilities which are unable to be performed by an engine company [leading to] a delay of approximately 14-to-20 minutes, compared to a 6-to-8 minute response using L13. Our ability to perform life-saving measures [are] limited as firefighters.”

With only one medic unit in the West Seattle area, this could lead to delays of approximately 12-to-18 minutes at least, according to the Station 37 firefighter.

“I will be working to fund L13 and M26 to provide continued service in District 1,” Herbold vowed. “Just like we did in the 2022 budget, we must fund life-saving investments in the council’s 2023 budget.”

KIRO Newsradio reached out to the mayor’s office for a response to Herbold’s concerns. The mayor has yet to comment as of this reporting.

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Councilmember Herbold vows to fight for West Seattle fire resources