Local News

Cross that bridge when you come to it? Central Kitsap Fire adopts new rule

SILVERDALE — There are about 100 private bridges in the response area of Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue. Even though fire crews have never had any accidents crossing them, they don’t want to take the chance anymore. That’s why they approved new rules for their trucks Monday night.

bridgeYou have to cross a bridge to get to Shannon Thompson’s home in Central Kitsap. It’s one of the things he likes about the property.

“It’s very peaceful, very tranquil, we’ve got the rivers,” he says. “That’s why we bought the home.”

But he found out the price of that tranquility the first day he moved in.

“The house came with a washing machine, filled the house with smoke. So first thing we had here was a fire truck and they came down the road, and they stopped at our bridge because they didn’t know if they could cross it.”

The previous owners had just replaced the bridge after the old one washed out in a flood, so Thompson had the paperwork to show firefighters that it was structurally sound and could handle the weight of a fire truck.

But there’s another bridge at the back of his property that’s older and doesn’t have a posted weight limit. Firefighters will not cross bridges like that after Jan. 1. On Monday night, fire commissioners approved a new policy to allow their trucks on private bridges that only have been inspected by a licensed structural engineer every five years.

“There are places now that we don’t cross because we’re not comfortable,” says Chief Scott Weninger. “But what is not fair is we cause our firefighters to make split decisions on whether they should cross or not when there’s an emergency going on.”

Thompson understands the need for new rules. But he’s not happy about having to pay an engineer for regular inspections.

“I don’t know what the cost will be,” he says. “I imagine a couple thousand every time someone comes out here.”

It could be more if repairs need to be made, but firefighters say following this new policy is the only way to ensure safety.

“We’re trying to prevent damage to our apparatus and also protect our employees,” says Weninger. “The fire district is not regulating bridges. What we’re doing is saying we won’t cross ones that haven’t been rated.”

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