KITSAP COUNTY — Hundreds of homeowners in rural Kitsap County could be facing longer-than-normal response times during emergencies. The problem is that scores of privately owned bridges might not be able support the weight of heavy fire trucks.
Firefighters worry about the stability of 94 private bridges and 44 culverts, and if they’re not absolutely sure those bridges can support trucks, they’re not going to risk one of those bridges collapsing beneath them.
“Our engines are 40,000 pounds and our tenders are 54,000 pounds,” said Lt. Matt Porter with Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue.
But resident Art McCallen worries about the estimated $1,000 to $2,000 cost of a bridge inspection, plus the expense of any needed repairs.
“My concern is for my family,” McCallen said. “In the event that we have a fire, God forbid we have a fire, am I going to have to watch my house burn?”
The district’s fire commissioners want to implement a policy in which there must be signage on all private bridges that clearly show weight limits. Without that signage, fire trucks won’t even try to cross. And the costs could skyrocket for rural homeowners.
“There’s a potential for their fire insurance to go up, there’s a potential for it to be canceled, there’s a potential for a mortgage issue with this,” Porter said.
Firefighters promise they will respond to every call, even if that means long hose runs or sending paramedics on foot, they’ll get the job done.
But McCallen worries he’s not getting a fair deal from the fire district.
“I’m paying my fair share of taxes,” said McCallen. “I should receive the benefits.”
Central Kitsap fire commissioners could adopt the policy as early as Sept. 9.