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Gig Harbor Fire Department Seeks Input on Emergency Access Policy

In many cases, the access routes include privately constructed roadways, driveways and bridges that have not been constructed or maintained in accordance with state and county standards, according to the fire department.

Local residents are encouraged to attend the Gig Harbor Board of Fire Commissioners meeting next Monday to voice their opinions on a resolution proposed by .

Here's what the fire department released this week:

The emergency response personnel and equipment of Pierce County Fire Protection District No. 5 (Gig Harbor Peninsula, Fox Island and Raft Island), in response to emergency calls, are in many instances required to gain access to the scene of the emergency by traveling privately owned access routes.

In many cases, the access routes include privately constructed roadways, driveways and bridges that have not been constructed or maintained in accordance with state and county standards.

While the Board of Commissioners of the District recognizes the responsibility to provide emergency services to all persons and properties within the District, it also recognizes its responsibility to use reasonable means to protect District personnel and equipment from unreasonable risks that could result in injury to persons or damage to property.

In order to provide reasonable protection to District personnel and equipment without impairing the District's ability to respond to the scene of emergencies in all parts of the District, the Board of Fire Commissioners of Pierce County Fire District #5 are going to discuss imposing the following requirements and conditions, per draft Resolution 2012-12.

This discussion will take place at their regular meeting on Monday, Sep. 10, at 3 p.m. The meeting is held at the District Headquarters located at 10222 Bujacich Rd. NW.           

  1. The District shall require that all privately owned bridges used for vehicular access to private property be inspected by a licensed structural engineer at least every five (5) years to determine the load carrying capacity of the bridge. The maximum weight carrying capacity of the bridge as determined by the engineering inspection shall be conspicuously posted on or adjacent to the bridge. The property owner shall furnish a copy of the engineering report to the District.
  2. In the event any bridge shall not be inspected or posted as required above, or in the event the weight of District vehicles shall exceed the posted limit, the District emergency vehicles shall not be permitted to cross said bridge.
  3. In the event that the District should discover any private roads, over which District vehicles would be required to travel during an emergency, that are deemed to be unsafe or unusable in the opinion of District personnel because of road grade, road width, unstable surface conditions, vehicle height limitations or other factors, the District vehicles shall not be permitted to travel on such roads.
  4. The District personnel responding to an emergency shall use whatever resources available to provide the needed emergency services in the event the District is unable to travel to the emergency scene with the necessary and usual District vehicles.
  5. In the event that District personnel shall become aware of any unsafe or un-posted bridge or unsafe private roadways, the District shall notify the reputed owner of all improved properties served by such bridge or roadway in writing of such fact as soon as is reasonable possible.

What do you think of the proposed resolution? Tell us in the comments section.

Dan Cushing September 07, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Sounds like common sense to me. The big issue, of course, is coming up with the money for the needed repairs/replacements. Has a survey been accomplished to see how extensive the issue is? This also sounds like an opportunity to put some folks to work (yup - manual labor) even if only for the duration of the project. This sounds like a project with a number of "goods" that could come out of it.
Paul Thorpe September 08, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I agree with Dan. Having a fire truck break through a bridge just make a bad situation much worse. I don't think a survey is needed until the policy is in place. That way affected property owners can be immediately notified of their responsibility.

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