Alaska News

Friday, May 24, 2019

Mark Kirko hired as new Homer Volunteer Fire Department chief

Homer will soon have a new face in a familiar place as city officials have hired a new fire chief. Mark Kirko was welcomed as the new chief for the Homer Volunteer Fire Department earlier this week. Kirko currently serves as Fire Chief/CEO for North Whidbey Fire and Rescue in Oak Harbor, Washington, where his duties on Whidbey Island include supervising six career staff and 76 part time and on-call volunteer firefighters and EMS providers. He brings 34 years of experience in fire service to the position, with 25 of those years in Alaska. Kirko began his fire service working 20 years with the Cordova Volunteer Fire Department. Beginning as a volunteer, he advanced through lieutenant and training officer positions to fire chief. He then served five years as fire chief and emergency management director for the Skagway Fire Department until the need to be near elderly parents took he and his wife to Vermont where he served six years as chief at the Windsor Fire Department.
Homer Tribune

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Wildfire managers urge caution statewide with fire over holiday weekend

Memorial Day Weekend represents the unofficial start of summer in Alaska. It’s the weekend when people start cleaning up their yards, head out for the first camping or boating trip of the summer and break out grills for barbecuing. All those activities can lead to wildfires, which is why Alaska’s state and federal wildland fire managers remind Alaskans and visitors alike to exercise caution with any activity that could spark a wildfire over the holiday weekend. With high wildfire danger persisting in many parts of the state due to warm, dry conditions, the flurry of recreational activity over the first holiday weekend of the summer increases the chances of new wildfire starts. Popular Memorial Day Weekend activities that can ignite wildfires include campfires, debris burning, barbecue grills, use of all-terrain vehicles, fireworks and target shooting, to name a handful. Alaska experienced one of its earliest and warmest springs on record this year, melting away the snowpack earlier than normal and resulting in a vigorous start to the wildfire season.
KTVF-TV Webcenter 11

Anchorage: Workshop aims to help first responders deal with emotions after continued exposure to tragedy

First responders are always on the front lines supporting the community through risky and often traumatic situations. After their work is done, however, some emotions that can be hard to deal with, can linger. A new program designed to train emergency responders on how to deal with that emotional trauma, was offered in Anchorage on Wednesday. Sarah Mielke started the Emotional Trauma Life Support program. The State Healthcare Coalition reached out to Mielke to bring her to Alaska. She travels around to different states teaching about why these emotions happen, the physical changes that come with them, and how to cope. She hosts these workshops as a former first responder, and PTSD survivor herself. "I have dealt with almost a year and a half suicidal period several years ago," Said Mielke. "There's not much that I talk about in this class that I haven't lived through myself. It not only gives me a unique platform to be able to understand where my colleagues are coming from, but it also makes me extremely passionate about going back into those dark places, so that my colleagues don't have to continue to die at their own hands."

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