PULLMAN - The Washington Department of Labor and Industries cited the City of Pullman with three violations totaling $2700 for the actions of fire department and maintenance crews during the rescue of 22 people while Grand Avenue was flooded back on April 9. The finance department paid the fines after the city determined it would not appeal the fines.
According to Labor and Industries, the first violation, with a penalty of $900, was for a fire department commander allowing a maintenance employee to operate a front-end loader with three firefighters in the bucket at four locations. L&I alleged that the equipment operator had no training in swift water rescue.
The second fine, also for $900, maintained that the fire department had personnel in fire bunker gear and rubber boots while riding unsecured in the bucket of a loader and without a personal flotation device and a helmet appropriate for water rescue.
The last $900 fine claimed the city did not furnish and require the use of appropriate safety devices and safeguards, including allowing an employee to ride unsecured in a front bucket of a front-end loader. L&I told the city the situation no longer exists for all three violations but they will be checked on future inspections.
During the evening of the flash flood on North Grand Avenue, which lasted for about five hours, fire department personnel managed to rescue 22 people, including an infant, and brought them all to safe locations. Fire Chief Mike Heston said fire crews, using the front-end loader, were able relocate 8 people to safety from the Mobil station including one with a diabetic emergency. There were 12 people, including an infant, that were rescued from tops of tables by fire personnel at the Tractor building. One person was taken to safety from a laundromat and one safely rescued from an insurance office. Chief Heston said there were no injuries during that flash flood.