Friday, June 11, 2010

Rep. Van De Wege declared honorary Fire Chief for 2010

When he’s not representing the people of Washington’s 24th Legislative District here in Olympia, Rep. Kevin Van De Wege (Sequim) can often be found working a shift at the Blyn Fire Station in Clallam County. As a professional firefighter and paramedic, Rep. Van De Wege deals with public safety on a daily basis. And when it comes to fire-related issues, he shares his insight with House colleagues about how to keep people and property safe.

His efforts were recently recognized by the Washington Fire Chiefs Association, which honored Rep. Van De Wege at a banquet in Spokane and named him “honorary Fire Chief for 2010.” They singled out his support for “fire-related issues” and his work to help pass legislation “benefiting citizens and the public safety community.”

“It’s a tremendous honor to be recognized by my fellow firefighters, for whom I have the highest respect,” Rep. Van De Wege said. “Fire safety is an important part of public safety, and it’s also an important piece of the state budget picture. We spend millions of dollars fighting wildfires, many of which could be prevented. I’m going to continue to push for safety measures that save lives, property, and taxpayer dollars.”

In the 2010 Legislative Session, Rep. Van De Wege was among several legislators who tried to pass a wildfire safety bill that would have mandated stricter fire-prevention codes in new construction and remodeling. Several Washington counties have already voluntarily adopted these codes. However, the bill was stymied when House Republicans opposed it during floor debate.

“It’s my hope that a wildfire safety bill will be taken up in the next legislative session. There was a lot of misinformation about the bill this year, and it failed when it should instead have passed easily. Saving lives and money is something I think everybody can get behind,” Van De Wege added.