Safeguarding Skagit: Inside the Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade

City Light’s Skagit Hydroelectric Project provides clean and efficient energy to Seattle’s customers, and its idyllic location provides spectacular, Instagram-worthy views of the North Cascades and Diablo Lake. Being nestled in such a remote location does have its advantages, but it can also provide its share of challenges when minutes count. During an emergency—whether someone has a bump or bruise during a dam tour or is involved in a serious traffic accident on the North Cascades Highway—a team of City Light employees take action, changing from their daily roles at the utility to act as members of the Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade.

For almost 60 years, this mostly volunteer group of first responders has gone above and beyond their assigned work duties at City Light to safeguard the residents and property of City Light, the Skagit Project and the North Cascades National Park. Fire Brigade Chief Cody Watson explains “the brigade fights fires and provides an emergency response like a typical fire department would; there are situations that require backup.” That’s why in 2008, a specialized group called the Skagit Technical Response Team (STRT) was created to supplement the brigade and provide aid during unusual rescue situations. Like the brigade, STRT is a team of City Light employees who are trained beyond their day-to-day skills.

In 2016, the brigade was crucial to the containment of the Goodell Creek Fire, which severely threatened the Skagit Hydroelectric Project and the surrounding communities. For Watson, an emergency of any size is important because of the brigade’s local impact.

“We have helped friends, family, co-workers and strangers who are often having the worst day of their lives,” says Watson. “The brigade provides services that no one else in this geographical area can. When the fire alarm goes off, they have to switch gears and put on a different hat. We have a pretty extraordinary team up here.”

Last November, the fire brigade added a new vehicle to their fleet, a state-of-the-art ambulance. The new vehicle replaced a unit that had been in service for nearly 25 years. Watson and the brigade worked closely with the City Light Fleet and Mobile Equipment team to build a unit that meets their unique needs. Some of the unique features include snow chains that engage with a flip of a switch, a hydraulic lift and cabin airbags to protect first responders when treating a patient.

Thank you, Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade, for keeping the City Light employees and its visitors safe!


Experience the majestic beauty of the North Cascades next summer on a Skagit Tour. Skagit Tours provide a fun and educational experience for people of all ages. Visit for more information!

Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade Rolls Out New Ambulance

What has four wheels, a hydraulic lift, snow chains that engage with the flip of a switch and is covered in red? If you guessed Newhalem-Diablo Fire Brigade’s new state-of-the-art ambulance, you’re correct! For the first time in nearly 25 years, the brigade will have a new unit to respond to emergencies at the Skagit Project and the surrounding community.

The ambulance was custom made to meet the unique needs of the mostly-volunteer brigade. City Light’s Rick Haggard and Levi Clark worked closely with the team to ensure that the ambulance was ready for almost any situation, from bumps and bruises within the project to emergencies on the North Cascades Highway.

Safety was also a top priority for the team. With four-point harnesses, a stretcher mount that can sustain 20Gs of force and airbags that protect the first responders, this vehicle takes care of both the responder and the patient.

“This is a unique vehicle in our fleet of over 1,000 pieces of equipment,” explains Rick Haggard, fleet manager in Fleet and Mobile Equipment. “It was a refreshing and rewarding project working as a team to accomplish the ambulance design and final delivery. The fleet office takes great pride in delivering the safest equipment possible to all City Light employees.”

This week, the ambulance will make its way to the Skagit Hydroelectric Project. The brigade will have an operator training and will report for duty the following week.

Women Rescued by Firefighters after Tree Falls on Pool

Firefighters rescued a female in her 60’s who was hit by the top of a 100 foot plus tree that fell on top of her while swimming in a community pool.

The pool accident occurred at 2:14 p.m. in the 13000 block of 25th Ave NE. When firefighters arrived the female was under the tree but conscious and able to breath. Firefighters assisted the patient by lifting her to the pool deck. Medics evaluated her injuries.

AMR ambulance transported the female to Northwest Hospital with a possible arm fracture and head injury. She was in stable condition.

None of the approximately five other people in the pool were injured.