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Opinion >  Letters

Fining first responders

Imagine you’re on a roof with flash flood waters rising as you clutch your infant. Or trapped in a burning car with smoke streaming through the floorboard. Or on the third story of a burning building with no means of escape.

Your fear is dampened as you hear the sirens of the firefighters coming to your aid. Do you want these brave men and women – our first responders – worrying about being fined by the state if they use this piece of equipment or that technique? Or do you want them doing everything within their training and expertise, including thinking outside the box, to rescue you and save lives?

The state Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) is levying fines against the city of Pullman because during a recent flash flood, the firefighters used a front-end loader to rescue citizens but didn’t follow certain safety protocols.

While I understand L&I’s role and their desire for regulatory perfection, the mere idea of fining rescue workers in the midst of an emergency situation is ludicrous.

I believe our firefighters are well-trained, well-equipped and well able to assess their safety and those they’re rescuing. I don’t want our first responders looking over their shoulders at an out-of-touch state agency that lacks common sense.

My conversations with those at L&I have not gone well. As such, I’m going to call on Gov. Inslee to act. He seems interested when it comes to wolves; let’s see if he’s interested when it comes to protecting our firefighters.

Rep. Joe Schmick, R-Colfax

9th Legislative District


 

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