Bellevue Fire & Rescue risk losing accreditation

If you were driving through Bellevue this morning and noticed firefighters waving signs for city council candidate Keri Andrews, get used to it: the firefighters plan to be out there every day between now and the election.

Why the passion and effort behind Andrews and her race against two-term incumbent Phil Noble? Chronic under-staffing has made Bellevue response times some of the worst in the nation, putting lives at risk and threatening the department’s accreditation. And that could mean huge premium bumps for residents and businesses should the insurance industry lower Bellevue’s Public Protection Classification.

“We are very concerned about our ability to provide a timely response to fire and medical emergencies,” Bruce Ansell, president of Bellevue’s firefighters union, said, “If the people of Bellevue really understood how serious this problem is, they would be asking the City Manager some very pointed questions.”

But rather than fixing the problem the city council keeps lowering the bar. In 2001 the council rejected the national standard of 5 minutes or less for emergency response time as too stringent, adopting instead a target of 6 minutes, 90% of the time… a goal they have not met since 1997. Now, in preparation for review of its accreditation, the city is setting a standard of 8 minutes, 80-percent of the time… almost twice as long as Seattle’s average response time of 4 minutes, 19 seconds.

If Bellevue voters want to continue electing conservative, anti-tax councilmembers like Noble, they could pay with their lives. Or they could elect a progressive like Andrews and get the kind of public service they demand.

Comments

  1. 1

    TacomaRoma spews:

    It’s their city. Let them do what they want.

    I think it’s wonderful that Bellevue has taken on the responsibility of being the example of conservative government in our region. Explosive growth, low taxes, insane housing prices and 8 minute emergency response times spells, “Successification!” to me.

  2. 2

    YLB spews:

    Just give it to the “free market” wingers – that solves everthing.

    (Eyes mist over with visions of Ronnie Raygun…)

  3. 3

    Spineless spews:

    I guess it’s just like the conservative response to Healthcare, but in Fire & Rescue… Just don’t get sick, don’t have a fire, and don’t find yourself in need of rescue.

    As a Bellevue resident, Nobles needs to go!!

    Nobles also bares responsibility for the biggest city construction gaff, that is our new city hall. I can understand the city needing a new facility, but a $100+ million facility? Just because they were jealous of the new Seattle City Hall. They then increased utilities taxes to help cover their cost overruns.

  4. 4

    Jane Hague's Dog spews:

    That is Phil Noble, not Phil Nobles. Not to be confused with Scott Noble or Jim Nobles. Or my very noble master.

  5. 6

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @4 Dog: Please stand under a shaky crane. Bellevue is a good place to find them. Ask your master to put you in the car and take you to Bellevue! Then find a construction crane bolted to some old railroad ties set in fresh cement and stand under it. The crane will do the rest. Thanx.

  6. 7

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    For dcades, Republicans have tried to foist themselves off on the voters as the “good government” party. Well, the voters let them take a try at showing us what they can do … and it turns out they can’t do anything. When Republicans run government, government doesn’t run. Services degrade, or simply become nonexistent; the relief trucks don’t show up with water for disaster victims, thousands of mobile homes sit rotting in vacant lots, water pours through broken levies, phones don’t get answered — and the fire department doesn’t come.

    And wingnuts dance with joy in the streets because we have no government anymore.

  7. 10

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    @7: A day in the future libertarian paradise: When the howling mob comes for the likes of Grover Norquist and his fellow throw out the baby with the bathwater libertarians, his pleas for justice and his ‘rightful day in court’ will at last collide with reality:

    “Justice? Law? You have to pay taxes for things like police, judges, and juries. What do you expect, something for nothing?”

  8. 11

    Facts Support My Positions spews:

    Tell a conservative you will lower their taxes, regardless the cost to society as a whole, and you get their votes every time.

    Tax cuts, and fear. The only 2 things left standing in the GOP’s election strategy. Neither one of them are working well either.

    The haves can live in gated communities, and the rabble can be fighting over crumbs outside the Blackwater guarded gates. Con Utopia!

    Who is the first one in line asking for help when fate hits “their” family? Conservatives! Gimmmeee them entitlements I hated so much till I needed entitlements!!! Gimmmeeeeee Wahhhhhhh!!!!!!! Miiiiiine!!!!!!

  9. 12

    Facts Support My Positions spews:

    I will never forget watching Davie Drier bragging on CNBC how the GOP was able to make cuts in 93 “entitlement” programs.

    Of course they were also cutting taxes on the top 1% at the same time.

    Now David, who’s yer daddy?

    Breadlines. What all Republicons deserve.

  10. 13

    ArtFart spews:

    It ain’t libertarianism by any measure! The neocons, Norquist included (or maybe Norquist especially) started out with the idea that they were doing some kind of “good thing” getting government off of everyone’s backs by starving it to death and burying it. Somewhere along the way, they conjured up the idea that they could accelerate the process by siphoning off the taxpayers’ money to some “worthy endeavor”–and what could possibly be more worthy than providing themselves with a better lifestyle? Since then, behind an ever thinner veneer of rhetoric, they’ve changed their objective to one of perpetuating their own lives of crime.

  11. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    I’m now waiting for Bellevue’s market-based conservatives to pony up for private fire services.

    HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR HAR

  12. 15

    IAFF Fireman spews:

    Staffing and Response times are 2 different things. Staffing refers to the number of qualified firefighters, EMT’s, Medics on an apparatus. Response times refer to the time that the alarm bell hits and the apparatus arrives at the emergency location.

    One major problem that should be addressed, is the number of nursing homes and facilities like that who use the 9-1-1 system to help get their residents off of the floor or off of the toilet. Another one? Do-good citizens who call 9-1-1 because they see a person sleeping in a doorway. These response are typically Man Down responses. The Fire apparatus goes lights and siren to the address only to find someone sleeping with no real emergency. Or how about the influx of immigrants (Both legal and illegal) who believe that the 9-1-1 system is their gateway to a Doctors Appointment. Many purposefully wait until 0200 to call, because there are fewer people in the ER waiting room. That $600 Ambulance ride? Taxpayers pay for it. It would be cheaper to send them up in a taxi, but if a patient requests an ambulance, the agency has to get 1 for the patient. Get more social programs you say? Those cost money. Where does the money come from? If taxpayers don’t vote for a tax increase, a common political move (For Cities with a General Fund) is to threaten laying off firefighters and police. Why wouldn’t they? Nobody wants to go without Fire/Rescue services.

    Taxes are just 1 part of the systemic problem. Abuse and overuse of the 9-1-1 system is another.

    And by the way, the Seattle Firefighters Union settled their contract agreeing to work additional hours in exchange for 4 person staffing on all fire apparatus. Why can’t Bellevue do the same? Negotiate for a benefit.

    One last thing, most cities, including Seattle ignore the most important Recognized National Safety Standard NFPA 1710 2 in 2 out rule. Sure they say they do, but if they did, downtown trucks would have 5 persons and so would downtown engines.

  13. 17

    YLB spews:

    Republican Fireman: just give it to the “free market”. That’s what Ronnie Raygun would do.

    WWRRD?

  14. 18

    Jane Balogh's dog spews:

    So the answer is we need to listen to a bunch of Seattle liberals who run a school system that spends way more money per kid than the private sector and yet nearly 40% pass up even though it is free?? Wow, maybe I should be allowed to vote.

  15. 20

    ArtFart spews:

    15 You raise some valid issues, but they ain’t exactly new. It was when? Around 1984 that I remember watching the “Gomer-1″ video that some of the Seattle Medic-1 folks put together as an inside joke.

    One think I do know–if your pump ain’t pumping and it takes 8 minutes for help to arrive, you’re pretty well fucked. We’d all better use this as a cue to stay up-to-date on our CPR training.

  16. 21

    Blue John spews:

    I just find it amusing. Bellevue-ites don’t want to to pay for better fire protection, so they pay higher insurance rates. Wonder if they will start to howl for insurance reform when their rates jump.

  17. 22

    Cathleen's Daddy spews:

    A couple years ago my infant daughter suddenly stopped breathing while sleeping in her mother’s arms. Puyallup fire rescue arrived in 2 minutes, resucitating her successfully. Unfortunately she died the underlying cause a week later, but that was a precious week. I went to the firestation and traced their route,and all I could think was they used jet propulsion to make it that fast. At 3 min she may have made it; more than that and Gramma/Grampa from Florida might have missed saying good bye. Point is, when you need them and they can’t make it in time, please let it not be because politicians want nice buildings and subpar services.

  18. 23

    spews:

    Jane Balogh’s dog says:

    So the answer is we need to listen to a bunch of Seattle liberals who run a school system that spends way more money per kid than the private sector and yet nearly 40% pass up even though it is free?? Wow, maybe I should be allowed to vote.

    Ahh yes, another long discredited right-wing shibboleth.

    You seem to have forgotten why those private schools have a much lower per-pupil cost. They admit primarily based on competitive examinations. In other words, they only deal in the cream of the crop. And if your kid comes to school on the short bus, forget it. They certainly don’t have expensive special education programs unlike the public schools. To put it another way, I can catch a lunker every single time . . . if I’m fishing in a hatchery. That’s exactly what the private schools do.

    Of course, those who can throw a ball well get in no matter what, but that’s another story altogether.