It is good to see the Spokane Fire Department is looking beyond gender in the hiring of its Administrators, this could be a good sign and a step in the right direction.
What is quite interesting to me about this hire is something most people aren’t aware of other than Firefighters and Cops and has been quietly hidden from the Public.
Trisha Wolford has a substantial background in Arson Investigation.
“Wolford, who will transition into her new role in Spokane in a few weeks, comes from the Bozeman Fire Department in Montana, where she held the position of deputy fire chief since December 2015. While there, she was responsible for operations and activities of the fire investigation division.”
“Before her work at the Bozeman Fire Department, Wolford worked for the Anne Arundel County (Maryland) Fire Department as firefighter and paramedic prior to promotion to lieutenant, the news release states. After completing training at the Anne Arundel County Police Academy, she was assigned to the Arson and Explosives Unit of the Fire Marshal Division.”
The facts are the Spokane Fire Department has handed off Arson Investigation to the supposedly overworked Spokane Police Department, much to the dismay of several of the Firefighters I have talked to about this issue. Since Assistant Chief Wolford does have a background and should understand the need for a quality SFD Arson Investigation Unit like nearly every other Fire Department in the Nation, including Bozeman where the Assistant Chief comes from, perhaps she will have enough influence to change things back to the way they should be.
The excuse SFD or Mayor Condon are apparently using for the change is this:
Lt. Wohl stated that the arson investigator has no powers to investigate; they expect SPD will investigate, per their understanding from the Mayor’s Office.
What that means is the Mayor and SFD Brass don’t want to spend the money to send a couple of Firefighters through the Washington State Law Enforcement Training Academy and have them Commissioned with the State of Washington to investigated, and make arrests in Arson cases. Aside from the State Law Enforcement Academy Arson Investigators are required to graduated from very extensive training regarding identifying such things as Fire Cause and Origin, Arson Crime Scene Investigation, and the like. Sure, it ends up being costly training, but if someone doesn’t have it who can testify on the witness stand in Criminal and Civil cases, the Investigation isn’t worth a crap. That quite simply means some SPD Detective will have to receive the Arson training.
Back in June I advised the City Council of the new plan, they of course weren’t aware of it, but I did get this response from one City Council Member, which makes me wonder exactly where the new SPD Arson Investigator Position might be hidden in the current budget process.
Sunday, June 25, 2017 10:24 PM
“From what I understand, there is a task team discussing the idea. I did speak with a SFD arson investigator and he is on the committee. He explained that they would continue to do the arson investigation — but would turn over to SPD for criminal investigation when necessary. He thought the discussions were going well and did not express concern at this point. I will keep you posted. And, I don’t know if Council has to approve, but there is concern over SPD having the manpower to do it.”
Internally SPD has offered the new job up, but the last documents I have show there is only one position that was or is open, I don’t know whether someone got the job or not, but I would imagine there were lots of people interested because any fool would be able to figure the position will be good for a bunch of overtime pay, especially if it is a ridicules single staffing position.
Yes of course I know exactly what the silly explanation for this change is, and it is another one of those easy sells to the Public Safety Committee and the City Council who’s naiveté when it comes to Public Safety is taken advantage of time and time again.
The facts are that SFD for years had a top-quality Arson Investigation Unit, with damn good Investigators, many of whom I worked closely with when an Arson turned out to be a Murder, or someone was injured in an Arson fire, we just helped out, they did the important work.
For those of you who follow SPD Crime Reporting Data, don’t be fooled by the low number of Arson’s reported to the State and FBI, it takes a hell of a lot of work in many cases to actually identify whether or not a fire was Arson, and then when the cause is known do the work to find the suspect and tie them to the crime ain’t no cake walk, especially in Serial Arson Cases.
From my perspective SPD would be a lot better off, as would the Community, if Detective positions were used to investigate things like Property Crimes, and Vehicle Theft for example.
Keep an eye on your Fire Insurance rates!