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Graham adds 18 new firefighters to cut down on response time, injuries!

By: Shelby Miller

Eighteen new firefighters will soon be responding to emergency calls in the South Sound thanks to a levy Graham voters approved in 2018. “We’re all going through it together. We’ve all worked really hard to be here and we’re all like-minded, want to get out in the community and make a difference,” said firefighter Tyler Schaff.

Schaff was a hairstylist and volunteer firefighter in Thurston County who recently switched career paths. She’s thrilled to be a part of the Pierce County team and was the only woman hired this year.

“It’s pretty cool. It’s an honor to have been picked with this many men, but we’re all equal, we’re all working and we’re all doing the same things. It’s like having a bunch of big brothers,” Schaff said.

Graham Fire and Rescue covers 70 square miles and serves 70,000 people. Last year, firefighters responded to nearly 7,000 calls.

“Increasing staffing reduces response times, which is important to our citizens,” said fire Chief Pat Dale.  Fighting fires is a demanding job. Since 2010, firefighter injuries have skyrocketed by 200%.  “We’re trying to deliver the service on the backs of the firefighters and that wasn’t a sustainable model to have that rate of injuries,” said Dale.

A four-year $4.3 million levy voters approved in 2018 adds new firefighters, trucks and equipment. The funds will help protect firefighters and the citizens they serve.  “It helps us deliver the service to them that they require and they want,” said Dale.

The 18 new firefighters will be fully trained and ready to respond to calls by September, bringing the total number of Graham Fire and Rescue members to 90.