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A4 • Friday, November 1, 2019 | Seaside Signal | SeasideSignal.com
THE BREATH OF LIFE
SEEN FROM SEASIDE
ast year the Gearhart Fire Depart-
ment’s annual fundraiser sought to
raise funds to replace aging ﬁ reﬁ ghter
safety apparatus. In September, they did bet-
ter than that: along with money raised from
local donors, they received this letter in late
September from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency’s Assistance to Fire-
ﬁ ghters Grant.
The grant will bring more than $145,000
for operations and safety.
An additional grant for wildland ﬁ reﬁ ght-
ing was also received by the ﬁ re department,
with $8,000 from the Oregon Department
of Forestry to be used for radios and turn-
Grant money will be matched by the city
with an additional $7,250 raised from dona-
tions, and will bring self-contained breath-
ing apparatus to ﬁ reﬁ ghters. We talked
to Chief Eddy shortly after the grant was
Q: Tell me about the grant.
Eddy: The federal share is $145,000.
Our share is $7,200 and change. This is the
third year in a row we’ve applied for the
Q: What was different this time around?
Eddy: We did a lot of research, talked
to the departments that were successful in
grants, and got some of their insight, what
they thought helped in their grants.
It was a good collaboration between
myself, (executive administrator) Krysti
(Ficker) up front and (City Administrator)
Chad (Sweet), all three.
Q: What is the cost of the self-contained
Eddy: Each is $6,800 per unit from
FEMA. That includes the SCBA pack, two
(oxygen) bottles and a facepiece. We wrote
the grant for 22 SCBAs. Since we do have
two stations we have to make sure we have
enough units at each station. Each truck has
six, so for just the two trucks alone, that’s
12. And some of our other support rigs have
to have SCBAs as well. With the new reg-
ulations, it’s nice to have everybody have a
mask to put on.
Q: How do the masks work?
Eddy: All the new SBCAs require what
you call “positive pressure.” That means
there’s always air going into the masks.
Even if you break your seal on the side,
you’re not going to be sucking in the nasty,
because you have more pressure inside the
mask than out, so it’s going to push out
instead of suck in.
Q: Do you have to train people to use
Eddy: We train with them all the time.
At least one or two drills a month. We’ll
use them in a training scenario where we
smoke up a room. Especially for new peo-
ple, that’s one of the big things, how to use
Q: Do you often use them?
Chief Bill Eddy shows an old self-contained breathing apparatus, near the end of its useful life.
Eddy: Anytime there’s a ﬁ re. There are
so many carcinogens out there. It could be a
hazardous material spill.
Q: How long will an air tank last?
Eddy: We use 45-minute bottles. That’s
pretty much the industry standard.
Q: You keep replacements on hand?
Eddy: Our standards, which are pretty
much the norm right now, are that once
you’ve gone through two bottles on a ﬁ re
scene, you go to rehab.
Q: What is that?
Eddy: Rehabilitation. That’s where you
go take your pack off, your coat off, cool
down, have some water. Once you’ve spent
an amount of time in rehab, then you may
be able to go back for another bottle or so.
Q: How much do the air packs weigh?
Are they heavy?
Eddy: The packs average around 25
They ﬁ gure a ﬁ reﬁ ghter, when he goes
in, is usually packing around 45 pounds —
sometimes more. So with an airpack, extin-
guisher or hose, you’re carrying a lot of
Q: Are these SCBAs different than the
Eddy: They’re a little more advanced.
The ergonomics are a little easier on your
Q: When do you expect delivery?
Eddy: The vendor says they will be
delivered in 30 to 45 days. We’re really
happy about that considering our bottles
are out of date in December. We’ve already
made arrangements if we don’t get SCBAs
by December, we can get some other used
bottles and use them in the transition.
Q: I also see you got a wildland ﬁ reﬁ ght-
Eddy: We got a VFA grant through the
Oregon Department of Forestry, a volunteer
ﬁ re assistance grant.
The grant was for $8,904, a 50-50 match.
Gearhart put in $4,452, the state $4,452
from the grant.
Q: What will the funds cover?
Eddy: We put in a grant for what they
call BK (Bendix King) radios. It’s the type
of radio they use on the wildland scene. The
state uses them. All the federal people use
Q: They’re different than a walkie-talkie?
Eddy: They’re the same thing, but a
certain type of radio that can be ﬁ eld pro-
grammed. They use regular AA batteries
instead of rechargeable. They’re the stan-
dard of the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Q: Analog or digital?
Eddy: They’re a combination of both.
You can get either one. I think we’re getting
two of each, for four wildland radios.
Q: Is this to ﬁ ght ﬁ res at Saddle Moun-
tain and local surrounding areas, or long-dis-
tance ﬁ res?
Eddy: Both. Oregon Department of For-
estry used them when we had the ﬁ re down
at Short Sands. Luckily it was small enough
at that time that we were still able to use our
radios to communicate with Oregon Depart-
ment of Forestry. But if it had gotten bigger,
they would have had to bring some of those
radios in and use them.
The other part of the grant was for sets of
wildland gear for the female ﬁ reﬁ ghters.
Their cuts are totally different. I know a
lot of them were complaining, “These pants
don’t ﬁ t right.”
Q: Any other grants in the works?
Eddy: Not at this time. We’re hoping to
get the ﬁ rehouse on the ballot in May.
Q: The National Assistance to Fireﬁ ght-
ers program offers grants of $750 million.
Do you see any grants for Gearhart ﬁ re-
house construction on the horizon this time
Eddy: You may think $750 million is a
lot of money, but a ﬁ rehouse ranges any-
where from $3 million to $25 million for a
ﬁ rehouse, depending on where you’re at.
That money doesn’t go far, especially with
the amount of need that’s out there.
Q: Can the state contribute?
Eddy: The state doesn’t have a lot for
new buildings. If this ﬁ re hall was large
enough and new enough, we could apply for
an earthquake grant to bring it up to current
earthquake standards. But the ﬁ re hall is so
old and hollow block that we actually had
an inspector come in and laugh: “There’s no
way you’re going to rebuild this building.”
The best thing is to tear it down, if we were
going to do it here.
Q: Will the city need to factor in the new
state rule change loosening building rules in
tsunami inundation zones?
Eddy: It wasn’t really a rule before that
you couldn’t do it. It was just frowned on
big-time. You couldn’t get any state money
for it. They relaxed that.
In Gearhart we don’t have a lot of
options to build outside the great big huge
one that may happen every 10,000 years.
Where they have it picked now (North
Marion), there hasn’t been a tsunami that
breached those dunes in 5,000 years.
Q: So whether a spot outside the tsunami
zone is impossible, you’re trying to ﬁ nd the
safest of the options?
Eddy: We’re trying to ﬁ nd the safest
spot possible. At this spot here (670 Paciﬁ c
Way), we’re at 12 feet. It’s not going to cut
it. The other location is a little bit better than
50. I can’t look in my crystal ball and tell
you what (size tsunami) we’re going to get,
but talking to (geologist) Tom Horning and
seeing the latest information, that location
should be ﬁ ne.
Q: Are you optimistic?
Eddy: The people in Gearhart are smart
enough to get the information and say, “This
is reasonable. I understand why.” It comes
down to the day of the vote. A lot of times
people vote their pocketbooks. As long as
they’re honest with themselves, if they get
the facts — it’s their choice.
Q: Is there anything else you would like
Eddy: This grant for SCBAs is huge. We
were really struggling how we were going
to do it. We’ve gotten donations from peo-
ple to put a Band-Aid on it. Now we’ll be
able to use those donations to enhance that
How incarcerated kids beneﬁ t from therapeutic poetry
s a person who taught creative writ-
ing for seven years in both medium-
and maximum-security prisons for
women, I was very interested to attend a
talk last week at the Seaside Public Library
given by Mindy Hardwick, author of mul-
tiple books, many of them romantic ﬁ ction,
and speciﬁ cally author of a memoir, “Kids
in Orange: Voice from Juvenile Detention.”
In a midlife career change as Hardwick
transitioned from teacher to writer, she
volunteered to facilitate a weekly poetry
workshop in a juvenile detention cen-
ter in Everett, Washington. Most of the
teens she worked with were in for drug-re-
lated charges. Many, if not most of them,
returned to the facility multiple times over
the 10-year period Hartwick ran the work-
shop. Their stories and their voices became
Hartwick holds an MFA degree in writ-
ing for children and young adults from Ver-
mont College. She currently lives in Can-
non Beach where she can be seen walking
her cocker spaniel, Sunny. She is an advo-
cate of the Pongo Method of teen writing,
inspired by the work of Richard Gold, Pon-
go’s executive director.
The Pongo Publishing Teen Writing
Project is a nonproﬁ t, volunteer-based effort
working with Seattle teens who are incar-
cerated, on the streets, or leading difﬁ cult
lives. Traumas from their childhood have
made them depressed, angry, and prone
to substance abuse and other destructive
But the writing process, speciﬁ cally
poetry writing, has made a difference.
At the library, Hartwick read from her
own book a passage about entering the
juvenile facility. It was a detailed descrip-
tion of storing personal items in her locked
car and passing through detention security,
knowing exactly what she needed to do —
and not do — to avoid getting “wanded.”
Despite the facility’s clearly delineated
rules about not engaging with others, which
would include even looking at the faces of
strangers, she couldn’t help but read the
looks on the faces of other people waiting
in line to get in — most of them the incar-
cerated teens’ own family members. She
John D. Bruijn
Mindy Hardwick is the author of “Kids in
Orange: Voices from Juvenile Detention,” a
memoir created from her ten year sojourn
volunteering at a juvenile detention center.
could see how they stared at her, sometimes
with hostility, wondering how she was able
to move so swiftly through the procedures,
what made her so special. Allowing that
she is by nature a person who often breaks
rules, Hartwick relayed how she spoke to
one child’s distraught mother, ﬁ bbing, actu-
ally, when she said she knew the child. It
wasn’t really a falsehood, as Hartwick had
been working with incarcerated teens for
years. In the way that is particular and per-
haps only understandable to those who
work with that population, if you knew one,
you knew them all.
Before the talk was over, Hartwick read
several of the teens’ poems. One poem,
entitled “Somehow,” seemed to summarize
the lives of them all:
“Somehow I will ﬁ nd a way to get out
of this cage,” the teen wrote. “The cage that
keeps me locked up.”
Hartwick sadly related that while she
doesn’t keep in touch with her former stu-
dents, she knows some are likely still
caged. After aging out of juvenile detention,
many went on to prison.
“They get clean inside but after they’re
back home or on the street, many go back to
their old habits,” she said. This, of course,
is just another tragedy of the ongoing opi-
The power of therapeutic poetry writing
is that it has the ability to heal. As an honest
expression of emotion, poetry transcends
stigmas and stereotypes to embody feel-
ings and resilience that are universal, empa-
thetic, and admirable.
Hartwick no longer works with juve-
nile offenders, but she is running writing
workshops. For more information, log on to
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