Appreciation of Art: Vashon Fire Annual Report 2019

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In the art-hungry month of June 2020, after we were all deprived of live music, theater, art exhibitions and even bookstores for what seemed like an eternity, the most unlikely of pleasures Aesthetics has arrived in Islander mailboxes – the 2019 Vashon Island Fire and Rescue Annual Report.

The report, reassuringly titled “Omnia Paratus,” – from Latin, of course, for the firefighter’s promise to be “Ready” – was presented as a 29-page graphic novel, written by Fire Chief Charles Krimmert, who also contributed sketches to the project.

As I leafed through the book, I must have wondered: Has there ever been a more elegant, informative, and library-worthy annual report produced by a small town fire department, somewhere?

The answer, of course, is no. Maybe another rural or even a big city fire department somewhere in the world created something as good, but nothing better.

Credit goes to the book’s creator, Krimmert’s wife, Laura Neuman, and collaborator Trevor Stearns, for her masterful and vibrant illustrations.

“Omni Paratus” begins with a full-page panel depicting the “stranger than fiction” true story of an osprey nest perched atop the 120-foot-high communication tower of the main fire station – whose occupants sometimes drop large fish in the parking lot of the department.

It’s a fun start to the report, with more high-profile surprises to come.

Most of the 10-chapter report, drawn and captioned in the style of Marvel comic book superheroes, details the actual adventures and accomplishments of the department in 2019.

The graphic novel is a perfect format to capture the world of firefighters, the branch of first responders known for their search and rescue prowess, emergency medical skills, and for saving lives and property from terrible and sudden conflagrations. .

Firefighters are, in Mister Rogers’ lingo, the ultimate “helpers” we look for when something goes wrong – and has there been a more difficult time than this?

So in fact, these summer days seem like a great time to sit down at the kitchen table with a page turner like “Omnia Paratus”.

One chapter, rendered with daring chiaroscuro, details the department’s exploits in extinguishing a fire at Pacific Research Northwest (Sawbones) in early January 2019.

Another recounts the road trip of the department’s new fire truck, which traveled all the way from South Dakota to Vashon to be blessed by VIFD’s chaplain, Father Tryphon.

And another chapter takes readers to the heart of a smoke-filled “search and rescue prop” used by the department to train firefighters.

But that’s not all. The report also contains extremely practical and useful information. The centerpiece of it all is a dense four-page list of community resources for Islanders, including the most vulnerable in our community – organizations that provide assistance with meals, utility payments, and even vouchers. for free clothes. There is a directory of medical, dental, counseling and recovery resources, as well as confidential health services for adolescents, women and those who are victims of domestic violence.

Do you know someone who might need health care, home care, housing, transportation or legal services? It’s all in the annual report.

It’s a book to keep close at hand, now more than ever.

“Omnia Paratus,” though largely concerned with 2019, ends with a full-page letter to Islanders from Chief Krimmert, written shortly before publication, detailing the department’s close partnership with VashonBePrepared, the medical reserve corps of the island and the Emergency Operations Center team. to help and support Islanders during the pandemic period.

Reading these pages was another uplifting reminder that we are surrounded by “helpers” all over Vashon, busy doing quiet but essential work to keeping our community strong.

The report details the overview of the fire district shipments from 2019, with 1,536 responses to 911 calls and 696 shipments requiring transport to a hospital or transfer to a private ambulance. That’s a lot of help.

There are pages devoted to home fire safety advice, a burn permit with a helpful drawing from Krimmert of the residential burn criteria, and a form – ready to extract from the book – to order a special address sign with letters. reflective white that is visible day or night. You want firefighters and paramedics to be able to quickly find your dark, winding driveway, right?

Krimmert, in a brief phone interview, said that in the weeks after the book was sent to Islanders, he had received an influx of orders for the special address panel – so much so that one day the department piled 18 panels prepared for pick-up at the station.

The fire chief also said he received generally positive feedback on the annual report.

“‘I read it cover to cover’ was one of the comments I received,” he said, adding that he had also heard that some islanders were handing it over to their children confined to the house so that they can color in black. -and white designs. Others, he said, had requested additional copies to send to friends and family.

This is the third annual report produced by Krimmert during his tenure as fire chief. All can be viewed at viver.org.

It is also the most expensive annual report produced by the department, Krimmert said.

According to Rebecca Pollack, district secretary and district finance officer, the final cost of producing the book and sending it to everyone on the island was about $ 16,500. Some of that cost has already been offset by increased sales of special address signs, she added.

But for those looking at the glossy, full-color cover of the book and worried about big expenses, it’s worth noting that the report also includes a section on the ministry’s finances in 2019, detailing how the ministry handled its revenue generated by taxpayers in 2019..

In short, the district spent $ 1,043,157 less than its revenues and ended the year $ 106,565 under budget. Overall bank balances were improved by $ 656,403. The department’s year-end account balances, including those in reserve funds, were just under $ 3 million.

This taxpayer (and art lover) is grateful to VIFR for managing its public funding and agrees that the department has spent around $ 1.65 per island resident to inform the community of a surprisingly elegant and engaging way of his work. The book was certainly madness, but it is also a keepsake and a necessary compendium on the range of utilities provided on Vashon.

Islanders can pick up copies of the report at the Vashon Main Fire Hall or view it online at viver.org/files/news/207/VIFR2019ACR.pdf.



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