Alaska News

Friday, January 20, 2017

Matanuska-Susitna Borough: Emergency Director Bill Gamble Moves On

Emergency Services Director Bill Gamble is resigning after nearly 27 years of service as a responder in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, a vast region including some 25,000 square miles with an often extreme environment of rogue glacial rivers, hurricane force winds, and fire-spreading black spruce. His career spanned large-scale disasters from the Millers Reach Fire to the recent Sockeye Fire in which up to 1,000 sled dogs had to be evacuated quickly. In 1996, Gamble was a new fire chief during the Millers Reach Fire, likely still the most destructive fire in Alaska as far as buildings destroyed. He served during three other federally-declared Mat-Su disasters, the windstorm in 2003, the floods in 2006 and as the Operations Section Chief when flood waters infiltrated Talkeetna in 2012.
Alaska Business Monthly

Capital City Fire Rescue Chief Rich Etheridge discusses possibility of re-breaking record number of calls per year

Capital City Fire Rescue starts the new year eyeballing yet another record year for calls. While a guest on Action Line Thursday, Fire Chief Rich Etheridge was asked if they could be looking at another record year. "So far, it's starting out with a bang. We're only halfway through the month, and we're already 35 calls over where we were last year, so it's not slowing down at all." Last year surpassed the previous record set in 2015. "2015 was the first time we broke 4,000 incidents. Last year was even bigger. We ran 4,517 calls, which is a 13% increase over the previous year. Typically we increase 1% to maybe 3% on a busy year, but last year was just kind of astronomical. The majority of the increased call volume were medical services."

CCFR and Airport receive donated Airport Rescue Firefighter Truck

Fire Chief Rich Etheridge says the "Airport Crash Fire Truck" was donated by British Petroleum and arrived Wednesday. The chief believes it had been sitting for years in Deadhorse and only had about 200 hours on it. "Although it's a 1991 model, OSHKOSH T-3000, it's the same size as the one just purchased," said the chief. "So we'll be able to have two 3,000 gallon trucks as our first out apparatus." Etheridge was asked on Action Line Thursday if the project to expand Glacier Station will now have to be expanded further. "They anticipated having to get the larger trucks in the future so the building is already prepped to accept a truck that size," stated the Chief. The new fire engine was too large for the fire station which spurred the renovation.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Governor says Alaska is in the ’gravest fiscal crisis in state history’

Speaking to the Alaska Legislature Wednesday night, Gov. Bill Walker referenced the words of the director of the Legislative Finance Division and called the state’s current budget trouble the “gravest fiscal crisis in state history.” “Mr. Teal was right” when he used those words, Walker said. “Better days will come, but until then, we must make difficult adjustments,” he said. Walker said the Legislature has already cut the state’s budget to levels last reached in 2007. He used his address, the annual speech to the Legislature, to call for new revenue to close the deficit. “We can’t continue to cut the budget and expect to improve the situation,” he said. Walker’s draft budget, now in the hands of the Legislature, calls for spending some of the investment earnings of the Alaska Permanent Fund to reduce (but not entirely eliminate) the deficit.
Juneau Empire

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