New career firefighters/EMTs for Clallam County Fire District No. 2 are, from left, Neil Crumley, Zachary Gear and Tyler Reid. (Jay Cline/Clallam County Fire District No. 2)

New career firefighters/EMTs for Clallam County Fire District No. 2 are, from left, Neil Crumley, Zachary Gear and Tyler Reid. (Jay Cline/Clallam County Fire District No. 2)

Clallam County Fire District 2 hires three full-time career firefighters

The firefighters were selected through a competitive examination process held in June that was open to current volunteer firefighters.

PORT ANGELES — For the first time in its 73-year history, Clallam County Fire District No. 2 has hired full-time career firefighters, Chief Sam Phillips said.

The three former volunteers — Neil Crumley, Zachary Gear and Tyler Reid — began their new positions as full-time career firefighters/emergency medical technicians for the fire district, which serves areas around Port Angeles from Deer Park to Dry Creek.

“For us, it’s a growth spurt that we are able to do within our budget without going back to taxpayers,” Phillips said.

The district reallocated funding from other areas such as capital purchasing, operations and supplies, and also used an unexpected increase in revenue — $28,000 — from ambulance transports, according to Phillips.

The medic tax in Port Angeles doesn’t help District 2 because it serves an area outside city limits.

The firefighters were selected through a competitive examination process held in June that was open to current volunteer firefighters.

“We wanted to have an incentive for our volunteers to show them there was opportunity within the district,” Phillips said.

The testing involved a physical agility test, a medical scenario to evaluate medical skills, a fire scenario gauged to evaluate firefighting skills and two interview panels.

“We are extremely happy to have these excellent firefighters working for us,” Phillips said. “These new career firefighters come to us already knowing our fire district, how we operate, where our greatest risk potential exists and how we are planning to mitigate those risks.

“They are very talented individuals,” Phillips added.

Each firefighter will earn a total of $54,846 annually — an amount that includes both salary and the cost of full benefits.

The firefighters’ workweek is 56 hours per week on a shift of 48 hours on duty and 96 hours off duty – a standard firefighter workweek.

The new hires will work with the three full-time paramedic/firefighters the district hired in 2015, who were funded initially by a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under the staffing for adequate fire and emergency response program, also known as SAFER.

The difference between the two classifications is the certification level, Phillips said.

Before the new hires, volunteer firefighters worked with the paramedics. Now the teams will be more consistent, Phillips said.

The new staffing model provides residents with two career firefighters on duty 24/7/365 augmented by more than 40 volunteer firefighters and emergency medical technicians (EMTs).

The staffing will help take some of the pressure off the volunteer members who average nearly four 9-1-1 emergency calls each day.

This brings to six the number of line personnel serving the fire district full time supported by one full-time chief and one administrative supervisor, Phillips said, adding that in 2012, the district was served by two full-time employees.

“As demands have grown, the need to better serve our citizens has, too, so we found a way to fund these critical positions,” Phillips said.

Volunteers still are needed, he added.

“We’re down to 33 volunteers. We’d like to have 60,” Phillips said.

The department answers 4.6 calls per day on average, with each call lasting an average of an hour.

Of the approximately 1,500 annual 9-1-1 calls for service, 70 percent are medically related, he said.

“So it makes sense to staff that need first. These are dual-roles positions, so they are cross-trained in fire attack and will also respond on all fire calls inside the fire district.”

The three new career hires are all from Port Angeles.

Crumley graduated from Port Angeles High School in 1993. He has attended Peninsula College, is certified as a firefighter/EMT and enjoys hiking and gardening.

Previously, he worked for Angeles Furniture and Olympic Ambulance Service.

Crumley began his fire service experience in April 2012 after he met a local volunteer firefighter at the YMCA who encouraged him to apply to join the volunteer ranks.

Gear joined the fire district as a volunteer in March 2010. He graduated from Bates Technical College with an associate degree in fire science with an emphasis on strategy and tactics, rescue and pump operation.

He is a certified firefighter II, EMT and holds his Red Card for wildland firefighting.

A native of Port Angeles and second-generation firefighter, he enjoys hunting, fishing and traveling. He most recently worked for Olympic Ambulance Service and interned at East Pierce Fire-Rescue.

Reid joined the fire district as a volunteer in January 2012. At 16, he served as an apprentice with Herzog Toga in Heidelberg, Germany.

He is a 2004 graduate of Port Angeles High School, after which he attended Western Culinary Institute in Portland, Ore. (2005).

At 17, he returned to Bavaria, Germany, to hone his culinary skills. He has worked as a chef on a cruise ship and as a lifeguard on a dive ship and surf instructor in Hawaii.

He is a certified firefighter 1, EMT and is pursuing paramedic certification.

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