Chelan Fire and Rescue is currently looking at reactivating the downtown “air raid” siren for larger, multi alarm incidents within the fire district.
Chelan Fire and Rescue runs over 900 calls a year and is a recognized as the 6th most high-risk area for large catastrophic fires in the state. As we have seen in the past, occasionally these fires can quickly overrun the capabilities of our limited local resources, especially with the right weather conditions. The majority of our calls are usually handled by the on-duty crews in combination with the volunteers at outlying stations. Those calls would NOT activate the siren. But due to the reduction of half of Chelan Fire and Rescue’s daily career staff coupled with a decrease in volunteers responding to calls we feel now is the time to research different ways to notify the community to prepare.
As more orchards are being torn out and more homes are moving deeper into the urban interface, we feel the Lake Chelan community as a whole, needs to be alerted. The community can share in their part of the response by looking up, looking for smoke, recognizing that there is a fire, and generally remaining vigilant to their surroundings. Fires that used to be slowed by green orchards and irrigation now have paths from the hills right into homes.
Chelan Fire and Rescue is looking at activating the siren only on 2nd alarm or greater fires. By activating the siren on 2nd and 3rd alarm fires it serves many purposes. It lets the community know that all five stations and all firefighters are being requested for a fire in the district. It lets business owners who employ our volunteer members know that there is a significant fire event locally in hopes that they may be able to release them to respond to the call. It lets you the citizens know there is a chance that if you call 911, your emergency may have a slight delay as incident commanders decide what to break free from the major incident or who to call to assist you. It lets you also know that there will soon be apparatus and personnel from all over Chelan, Douglas, and Okanogan counties potentially coming through town to assist. It creates community situational awareness that is vital to the safety of all as conditions can change in a matter of minutes. We will do our part in getting up to date factual information out to all media platforms as the situation allows.