The fire service has grown from an insurance-based fire protection focus in the late 1700s to a modernized complex organization serving communities worldwide. During the late 1800s, The city of Walla Walla formed its fire department, and in the 1940s, citizens of the County and the town of College Place decided that they, too, needed and wanted fire protection services. Since then, the area departments have made several changes; we now include EMS, Hazardous Materials, Rescue, Confined Space, and Low and High angle rescue to the long list of emergency-type responses.
The Past Few Years
Over the past few years, the demands for service have been increasing countywide. To meet these challenges, agencies have thought of ways to improve services while still being financially responsible to their taxpayers. Several departments have higher support staff to allow volunteers to focus on their responses and training while the paid staff takes care of the daily operations. College Place is one of those communities. We currently have a paid team of nine. These individuals provide our growing department's administrative support and two paid members 24/7 to augment our volunteer front-line responders.
Leaders now look at creative ways to provide services. Regionalization and cooperation are how EMS and Fire services are changing nationally. In the County, boundary lines are being dropped, and agencies are working closely together, where we had struggled in the past. Change within our agencies will continue as voters want more for fewer taxes. This is an exciting time and yet a time of uncertainty.