Seattle Fire Department Driving Policy

Safety is a top priority for the Seattle Fire Department.  The Department has a zero tolerance policy on the use of drugs and/or alcohol while on duty. In addition, the fire company officer conducts a daily “fit for duty” check of all firefighters at the beginning of each shift. The fire company officer looks for any signs of impairment that could potentially prohibit a firefighter from performing his or her duties.

We evaluate off-shift conduct on a case-by-case basis when determining whether to place any restrictions on a member’s work duties, including driving.   The Department is in the process of reviewing and updating its policies related to members with drivingrelated offenses or arrests to ensure that we maintain our goal of keeping the public and our firefighters safe.

 

Two early morning house fires keep firefighters busy

House fire on NE 72 St. Photo by John Odegard

No one was injured in two house fires that occurred early this morning within an hour of each other. The fires caused a total loss of $170,000.

The first fire was dispatched at 2:09 am to a house near 8 Avenue NE and NE 72 Street for a report of a porch fire that extended to the roof. Firefighters quickly extinguished the visible flames but worked for about an hour aggressively digging out the hidden fire located in the attic void spaces. The home owner discovered the fire and was out of the building by the time firefighters arrived. Fire investigators determined that this was a set fire and Seattle Police will be handling the investigation. The fire caused $100,000 to the house including contents and $5,000 damage to the neighboring house.

The second fire at 2:57 am was in a house near the intersection of 23 Ave S and S Columbia Way. This was an accidental fire caused by improperly discarded smoking material which started in the bedroom. Firefighters were faced with flames through the windows on one side of the house when they arrived. With their aggressive actions, they were able to extinguish the fire within about 20 minutes and limited the fire damage to $65,000. No one was in the home when firefighters arrived.

 

Helicopter crashes near the Space Needle

Photo Courtesy Fire Buff John Odegard

At 7:40 this morning a KOMO TV News helicopter carrying two people crashed onto Broad Street near 5th Avenue igniting three cars.  The pilot and news photographer onboard were killed instantly in the crash.  A 37-year old man who was in the car hit by helicopter debris was transported to Harborview Medical Center with third degree burns.   The occupants in the other two cars were not injured.

Initial 9-1-1 calls reported a large fire ball near a building.  About 15 seconds later, multiple 9-1-1 callers described  a helicopter on the ground and three cars on fire. When firefighters arrived on scene two Seattle Police Officers were assisting the badly burned driver. This allowed firefighters critical  time to  ensure no one else was trapped in the wreckage. Firefighters quickly extinguished the burning vehicles and prevented fuel from entering the storm drains.  The damage due to the helicopter crash was confined to the three cars.

Seattle Fire Department’s heavy rescue response included a technical rescue team with specialized equipment and training for difficult extrications.  Twenty-six fire units responded to the scene with a total of approximately 50 firefighters.

The Seattle Police Department with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will be handling the investigation.