Fifteen firefighting graduates of the South King County Fire Training Consortium academy on May 19 have joined Kent-based Puget Sound Fire. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire

Fifteen firefighting graduates of the South King County Fire Training Consortium academy on May 19 have joined Kent-based Puget Sound Fire. COURTESY PHOTO, Puget Sound Fire

Fifteen new firefighters join Kent-based Puget Sound Fire

Completed 20-week course at academy

Kent-based Puget Sound Fire is getting closer to its allotted number of firefighters as 15 recruits recently finished training.

The agency is budgeted for 232 in operations and the new hires puts the number of firefighters at 222, according to a May 26 email from Puget Sound Fire spokesperson Pat Pawlak. The agency employs more than 300, counting civilian and other uniformed employees.

The 15 firefighters completed the 20-week course at the South King County Fire Training Consortium recruit academy in Kent. They received several certificates, including their International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC) firefighter I, IFSAC firefighter II and their emergency medical technician certificates.

Other agencies that had firefighters at the academy included King County Fire District 2, King County Sheriff’s Office Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighter Unit, Mountain View Fire & Rescue and the Renton Regional Fire Authority. Those departments had a total of 10 graduates.

A few recruits by Puget Sound Fire, which serves Kent, Covington, SeaTac and Maple Valley, didn’t finish the academy.

“Each academy class will have some degree of attrition, and this most recent class was no different, as three of our recruits did not complete the training,” Pawlak said.

Six firefighters have retired so far this year from Puget Sound Fire. Another firefighter left to take a position in another state and one returned to a previous law enforcement career.

Puget Sound Fire hopes to hire 18 firefighters for the next academy that starts Aug. 22 and is in the middle of that hiring process, Pawlak said. Probationary firefighters starting pay is $82,569 per year.

Puget Sound Fire is funded by voter-approved property taxes and fire benefit fees, based on an industry accepted formula that takes into consideration fire flows, the square footage of structures, the type of structures and various risk factors. By state law, a fire benefit charge cannot exceed 60% of the operating budget. Property taxes ($1 per $1,000 assessed valuation) make up the difference.

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