Fire Headlines Podcast Icon - Culture

Conflict & Collaboration in Community Safety

June 15, 2023

19

In Washington state, the Kittitas County Fire Chiefs Association has raised their concerns about existing road variance procedures. A road variance is an administrative process where someone seeks exemptions or relief from existing road standards. Fire chiefs are asking that, when a variance is proposed within a fire district and outside a city, the fire chief for that district be consulted to ensure that the variance mitigation meets or exceeds fire code intent prior to approval. An article sent out by the Daily Dispatch explores this issue, and Chiefs Bob Horton and Jeff Buchanan address the article’s tone and the importance of working together to protect and support a community.

Listen On:

Podcasts_(iOS).svg

Apple Podcast

free-youtube-logo-icon-2431-thumb

YouTube

Spotify_App_Logo.svg

Spotify Podcast

Generic_Feed-icon.svg

RSS Feed

Explore respectful and less-than-respectful conflict and collaboration in the community during a new episode of Fire Headlines by the Western Fire Chiefs Association.

In Washington state, the Kittitas County Fire Chiefs Association has raised their concerns about existing road variance procedures. A road variance is an administrative process where someone seeks exemptions or relief from existing road standards. Fire chiefs are asking that, when a variance is proposed within a fire district and outside a city, the fire chief for that district be consulted to ensure that the variance mitigation meets or exceeds fire code intent prior to approval. An article sent out by the Daily Dispatch explores this issue, and Chiefs Bob Horton and Jeff Buchanan address the article’s tone and the importance of working together to protect and support a community.

Breakdown in Professionalism and Respect

Both Bob and Jeff note that the article’s tone is aggressive. Jeff calls attention to a quote from the Kittitas County Public Works Director, Mark Cook, that states, “At the end of the day … it’s Fire Command that kills firemen, not our roads. They make a decision to send people into those areas. And then to turn around and try and blame Public Works for not going back and retroactively fixing existing road grades, that’s interesting to me when we are not the ones that are making decisions to send firefighters into those bad areas.” Bob and Jeff agree that this article became a place for the public works employees and fire service workers to complain, which is not an appropriate venue. Bob says, “I feel bad for these residents in this community because I feel like they’re stuck in the middle of a really nasty tension.” 

Conflict and Collaboration in Local Government

Bob acknowledges the tension between public works and fire service, saying, “Economic development folks have an interest to grow and to develop, and the fire safety folks have an interest in fire safety.” When fire districts overlap with county governance, it can lead to conflict over land-use decisions. In the case of Kittitas, the fire district chiefs are upset because they are not being consulted about exemptions to fire code standards in city planning. The International Fire Code Council adopts standards of safety for communities. While developers experience pressure to build and grow an appealing, attractive community, fire chiefs want to ensure that these communities remain up to code.

Jeff was a city manager in North Las Vegas during a time of crisis for the city. He saw government employees across various departments come together to work toward the betterment of the community. He says, “When you focus on blame, I think that that’s where things just go awry. Let’s prevent the problem from resulting in devastation or catastrophic results in the first place, and it comes back to teamwork.” Fire Headlines host Inanna Hencke agrees, and notes that seeing government workers in conflict reduces trust in that government. The purpose of a government is to serve the public. Though they may have different ideas about how best they can support a community, if government workers are not united in that goal, they may lose community support.

You can email Fire Headlines at [email protected].

Sign up for the Daily Dispatch to get the FREE daily newsletter of articles like these in your area, as well as industry developments and trends, at www.dailydispatch.com.

Fire Headlines Podcast Icon - Building Codes

Ep.42:

Mixed-Use Fire Stations

Ep.41:

Cash Bonuses Amid Staffing Shortages

Ep.40:

Consolidation in Fire Departments

Ep.39:

NextGen Bulletproof Firefighter Helmets

Fire Headlines Podcast Icon - Law

Ep.38:

The Elijah McClain Case

Ep.37:

Historical Fires and Commanding a Type 1 Incident

Scroll to Top