This time of year, Captain Paul Kimball is busy preparing for the upcoming wildfire season. His skill, experience and leadership in wildland firefighting is a
Holding the south flank of the Reach Fire at 5,000 feet.
tremendous value to the citizens served by the Spokane Valley Fire Department as well as residents in communities across Washington State.
In his role as the Department’s Wildland Training Captain, Captain Kimball is responsible for ensuring all SVFD firefighters are trained and equipped to respond to all types of brush fires in the wooded, semi-wooded and open fields of our service area. He plans and executes annual refresher training on topics including entrapment avoidance, fire shelters, current issues and other hazards and safety issues.
“The risks associated with wildland fire are high,” he explained. “SVFD firefighters must be well-trained and equipped for the rare occasion when a small brush fire becomes a wildfire.”
Kimball recalls the day in July 2008 when strong winds and dry conditions resulted in the Valley View wildfire that burned 12 homes and approximately 1,000 acres. “When you’re saving 3-4 homes in one day, you feel like you can make a big impact,” he said.
In addition to his wildland fire leadership role within the Spokane Valley Fire Department, Kimball is also leader in Washington State’s Fire Service Wildland Mobilization. During the summer wildfire season, he is often “mobilized” in one of several roles – as an Engine Boss leading one firefighting crew, as a Strike Team Leader leading five engines and a water tender (truck), or as a Communications Technician working to support wildland firefighting with a radio system, GPS equipment, maps and more.
“I love wildland firefighting because I enjoy being outside in a very dynamic environment for fire behavior,” Kimball explained. “Wildland firefighting can have a big impact on a large number of people which is very rewarding to me.”
As homeowners head outside for spring cleanup, Captain Kimball encourages the use of FireWise practices to make homes defensible. Firefighters will work to protect homes threatened by wildfire if homeowners have developed a defensible space around the home.
Paul Kimball joined the fire service in 2001 as a resident volunteer in Spokane County Fire District 10. He also worked for the U.S. Forest Service during the summers as a wildland firefighter. He was hired by Spokane Valley Fire Department in 2004. Since that time, he has been promoted to Engineer (driver) and in 2013 became an officer. He is currently the A Shift Captain in South Valley Fire Station 9.