Chief Joe Sanford is a few months away from celebrating 40 years as a firefighter. The biggest change over four decades? The fire itself.
“The rate at which fire burns has changed, mostly because the furniture in modern homes is often made with synthetics,” he says. “We need to arrive at fires faster — it’s gone from a 30 minute response time to five minutes.”
The composition of modern furniture also has an affect on firefighters’ health, because it may release hazardous toxins when it burns.
“Cancer is now the leading cause of death for firefighters on the job,” Chief Sanford says. “When I was hired, it was fire.”
It’s been nearly 40 years since Chief Sanford became a firefighter, and nearly 30 years since Kirkland City Council asked voters to help fund Fire and EMS.