An interview with Jeff Griffin (D-WA 5th LD)
Jeff: It's great to be here. Thanks for the invite.
Kayne: It seems like just yesterday we were talking about politics as well.
Jeff: I think it really was just yesterday.
Kayne: It might be that way. It's been quite a busy campaign season thus far, hasn't it?
Jeff: It's been a lot of fun, there's a lot going on.
Kayne: I'm pretty familiar with your background, so this is largely for the benefit of folks who don't know you. I've went through your bio materials, just trying to pick out things that would be interesting for folks, I hope. You helped to set up Eastside Fire and Rescue, and you also were elected as the a fire commissioner. What I'd like to know, first question, is how those experiences prepared you for campaigning.
Jeff: Well, my first time I ran for Fire Commissioner, I ran against a 23 year incumbent and unseated him by doorbelling a whole lot of houses, so I learned a lot about doorbelling. I've been active in politics in other peoples campaigns for years, but the reason I ran for Fire Commissioner in the first place was because I saw a system that had a whole bunch of little fire departments that were feudal in nature - each had their own administration, their own public education, their own training divisions and they had hard borders they weren't allowed to respond across, so we weren't getting the closest fire vehicle and crew, so I thought that made no sense and ran for Fire Commissioner. In fact it was only a couple, short years after I was elected, we were able to create Eastside Fire and Rescue, put more firefighters on the street for less money, response times were down across the board, and in fact call volume is up because the population has changed so that's a pretty good combination, and I'm pretty proud of it.
Kayne: Eastside Fire and Rescue has "Rescue" in the title - do they do anything beyond fires?
Jeff: They do quite a bit of technical rescue. High angle rescue, trench rescue, and swift water rescue. They're also famous for their participation in wildfire fighting. Mobilizations... they have some of the biggest experts and some of the instructors who teach all over the State and are mobilized all over the nation for major wildfires.
Kayne: So actually they do some of the instruction at Eastside Fire for the firefighters who are over in Eastern Washington?
Jeff: Yeah, we're real fortunate in this area to have some real top-notch experts working in the field, particularly trench rescue, high angle rescue, and swift water rescue. They're also participants in the eastside hazardous materials program, so they're real well-trained.
Kayne: Ok. Right now, when you're not out doorbelling, you're a fire captain, right.
Jeff: Yep. I'm a fire captain for the Port of Seattle Fire Department, at SeaTac airport.
Kayne: This past couple years, we've seen President Bush speak quite a lot about homeland security, and we've seen Patty Murray speak about improving port security. I'd like you to name some specific improvements that you could see to improve port security while you're in office.
Jeff: Some things I'd like to see happen, as opposed to what I've seen happen, working at the airport. I think we've more than doubled the amount of money we're spending on airport security but I don't think we've even come close to doubling the amount of actual security. There's some things that need to happen at the airport and one of those is baggage screening. There has to be 100% baggage screening for every bag that goes onto an airplane. Right now, it's very rare for a bag to actually get screened and you can put anything in the belly of an airplane that you want, and that scares the heck out of me. We've been challenged with all the new threats like anthrax, SARS, and all these new threats since 9-11 that are terrorism related. We were told that "help was on the way," and that we'd be getting additional dollars for training, and specialized tools. Some of the testing equipment even to identify if a powder is anthrax... the tool itself costs about $20,000.00. Well, I'll tell you what. The people that have carried the burden of that expensive equipment is the local fire departments, and they've had to do that by laying people off, or reducing other programs, and yet we still have to respond to those emergencies, and I expect that there is a place in government - State government and Federal government - to help every fire department be able to respond to these new threats.
Continue reading "An interview with Jeff Griffin (D-WA 5th LD)"