I have been waiting patiently since June 24th for a response to this email:

Subject: The vintage KW and the Chevy fire trucks

Chief Church,

Can you give me some dates and events in the last few years where the vintage KW that is at station 65 and the vintage Chevy that is at station 66 were last used for appearances in public, say maybe for a market, community event or school function?  And the name of the driver for those trucks?

I recall seeing the Chevy at an event or two, but never the KW.

Please refresh my memory.

Jerry Galland


But, since I was not expecting one, waiting further seems pointless.

But let’s consider the circumstances, created by the chief himself.

It was made a big deal of at the meeting a week ago how Jerry got it all wrong when he reported the housing of personal owned fire trucks at the fire stations. Amid vocal assent from the members of the board, it was declared Jerry should have simply asked the chief for clarification about these trucks before reporting the information. Then it could, according to the chief, be ‘correct’ and everyone would know no wrong doing or misconduct was afoot.

So, in light of the suggestion, and in an effort to report accurate information, that evening Jerry sent Chief Al Church the above email asking for dates the KW, which Chief Church says is owned by the district, (but, as reported here, has been identified as actually being personally owned by a district employee), had been in a parade or at a school, or for that matter at any public appearance representing the fire district.


I also asked who would have driven it, since the owner, not the district, is the only one who has the keys and, lacking permission for regular firefighters to drive or even move it, has caused severe inconvenience when station personnel are attending to normal station duties.


A week has passed. The chief has been in the office. He has been at various social events. But answer the question he wanted the citizen to ask him personally?




A week passed and not a word from the chief. So much for asking at the source for accurate information.


Apparently, even with the grandstanding and fanfare, he has nothing to rebut my accurate reporting.


At the meeting, the chief also stated both antique fire apparatus were owned by the district, that they were stored inside with district approval and that all the appropriate permissions had been followed, and that any liability would be covered by the umbrella policy for the district.

What a convoluted and conflicting statement. If they were indeed fully owned by the district, why would there need to be extraneous district approval or redundant appropriate permissions for the vehicles to be inside the station? Unless, as reported here, accurately, I will add, we do not hold title to the vehicles.


In which case, the chief flatly lied to the commissioners. And the public.


He wouldn’t do that would he?


Even for a friend?



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How do you compliment the district policy without pointing out a few slips?


No organization is immune to human nature. Just because you are a policeman, mayor, CEO of a major company or even a fireman, things you may not be proud of done off the clock can have an impact in your career.


Statistically, there is a percentage of the population that drink and then drives. Recently there was a story in the news about a firefighter that had repeat DUI arrests. That is not why the media felt it worthy of reporting, though.


The surprising thing to many was the fact that while this firefighter was required to use an ignition interlock device on his personal vehicle, used to report for work, and as long as he held a current valid driver license, the fire department had no policy limiting his ability to drive those huge personnel laden fire trucks around the city. Though red lights. At high speeds. Weaving in and out of traffic.


He would simply park his ignition interlocked vehicle next to the station, then, at some point in his 24 hour shift, jump into the fire truck and race toward an emergency. No ignition interlock device required.


Now many, if not most, employers I know would somewhat allow the same thing, considering most employers do not require their employees to drive or the individual involved only used company vehicles on company property. The only restriction would be when the employee did not possess a valid driver license. Since suspended driver license is not the issue here, we will not pursue it.


However, what needs reporting is that Seattle Fire Department seems to regard the safety of the public a lot less than South King Fire & Rescue.

Human nature and the law of averages at play, on an occasion, or two, South King Fire & Rescue has had the uncomfortable opportunity to deal with an employee who had been mandated to have the ignition interlock device installed on their personal vehicle.

South King Fire & Rescue has a union contract with IAFF 2024 which includes what I will describe as a public safety clause. Really a responsibility and common sense clause.


Should a member of the union be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their personal vehicle. several mandatory actions must be followed.

Foremost, the firefighter must inform management of the requirement. And keep management apprised of progress through the courts if applicable.

And, the employee, along with union and management enter into a Memorandum Of Understanding.

That Memorandum Of Understanding has several features, including accountability, progress and term.

But what I consider the most important, from the public standpoint, is that the firefighter is restricted from taking or being assigned any role in the department as driver, or even possibly becoming the driver, of a fire truck or aid unit, while required to have the ignition interlock device in their personal vehicle.

The firefighter can perform their normal duties, except for driving, in what is known as the 3rd position.


Drunk Drivers at the wheel of South King Fire & Rescue Fire Trucks?

Not a chance.

Thank you, the men and women of South King Fire & Rescue, for recognizing that even the perception of having a driver with an interlock device in their personal vehicle sitting in the drivers seat of an emergency vehicle is bad policy, bad image, bad all the way around.


Unlike in Seattle, in our district, when that emergency vehicle is approaching, you know the driver is sober.


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Update – 06-24-14:

Three points of interest.

First, the chief and some commissioners confirmed they read my blog, surprising only in that I thought the chief put me off limits. and they forbidden to. I must be wrong, in at least that the moratorium does not apply to upper admin.

Second, they call this post on the blog ‘misinformation’ and tried to explain it away today.

And third, in order to prevent misinformation from being spread on blogs, it was mentioned by the chief and some commissioners during the meeting that all one needed to do to get the real story, the truth, was simply ask the chief. So, in addition to the three earlier public records request which culminated in this report, I sent Chief Church an email this afternoon. Let’s see what happens. And when.




While a common honest citizen might find it expensive, the chief is giving it away in what many consider looks a lot like stealing.

The open market value is anywhere from $100 per month for a fenced off uncovered open field to about $300 for a heated garage.


Perks from friends


So why are we GIVING away a comfortable heated space, actually INSIDE Station 65 to a SKF&R employee? For OVER FIVE years?

Well, speculate as you will, but it must be because Chief Al Church thinks you will never find out.

While you would forever be worried about someone damaging or stealing your vehicle, one of the chiefs friends gets 24/7/365 guards in the way of secure building and full time firefighters.

Here is the list of vehicles owned by SKF&R as of June 4, 2014.

You will see that one of them is a 1941 Stanford Pumper. Is that the truck we see at parades and other public events the fire district attends? I think not. See below.

Most of the others are functional vehicles, fire trucks and aid units along with vehicles the administrative staff get to drive home every day. (Why pay for gas when they have your wallet?)


Wheres the KW?


Do you see a KW fire truck on the list? A shiny fully restored vintage KW?

Why not?

Well folks, the reason is it is NOT a district owned vehicle.

Even though it is parked at 4966 S, 289th, Auburn, WA 98001. Commonly called Station 65.

Right next to the aid unit. Inside the station.

Admittedly, it is hard to get a picture of or even see the KW, since the doors are usually kept closed, and since it is normally hidden behind the fire engine. Even with the doors open, you can’t see it from the public side of the station when the regular trucks are in the station.

But once in a while you get lucky and drive by on a warm day to find the fire engine blocking it on a call and the bay door wide open.

So why is it not on the list?

Private vehicle gets free secured garage, at your expense


So why are the taxpayers of this district giving an overpaid administrator a $300 per month heated parking spot for FREE?


This is a gift of over $3,600 per year and Chief Al Church is more than happy to give your money away. Conservatively, using this space alone for the last five years, he has authorize over $18,000 to be stolen from you.


But, don’t worry, the chief is alright with that. And I suspect his 4 fire commissioner cronies know and agree.


As an extra bonus, Chief Church does not require what a retail storage unit will require, (title must match renter, vehicle requires insurance, vehicle requires registration and vehicle requires title)

He knows about it and condones it. Integrity?

What about Insurance fraud?


Oh, and what about the liability to the district?

If this personal vintage fire truck were to be the cause of damage to any district property, or injury to  personnel, we would, quite simply, be screwed. Although, I am sure the ‘facts’ would show it was not the cause. They would probably show the personal vehicle was not even in the building. Surprised?


And talk about integrity. Where the hell is the integrity? For YEARS, many of our battalion chiefs, assistant chiefs, duty chiefs and union firefighters have been assigned guard duty for this private vehicle and said NOTHING!

Nearly everyone in this district knew about this illegal storage and not a soul came forward, much less bothered to question the ethics or integrity.

Such is the rule of a czar.

Don’t dare cross Al Church.

And another one

At Station 66, just off 272nd in Des Moines, there sits another nice collector piece from the past. A well restored and cared for antique Chevrolet.

If you read this article in the Waterland Blog, you may have caught this quote:

“Did you happen to see the antique fire truck from South King Fire & Rescue with its new co-pilot last Saturday? Custodian Dick Body said “this dog is going to be with me wherever I go from now on.”

While one might assume from the text that the truck was owned by SKF&R, it is not real clear, and the truck is not on The List.

So, again the gift of absolutely FREE storage for a friend. Is this the truck we see at all those public events? The one the firefighters polish up while on duty?

We may even be paying for the repairs and parts.

Free Gifts

But why are the taxpayers of this district giving an overpaid administrator and another of the chiefs friends $300 per month heated parking spots for FREE?

This is another gift of over $3,600 per year of your money that Chief Al Church is more than happy to give away. Conservatively, using this space alone for the last five years, he has authorize over $18,000 additionally be stolen from you.

Anyone know who is getting this sweet perk?



I almost forgot to mention.

Go to the commissioner meeting at Station 68. Look out the window into the training yard. Or see it by looking through the fence on the east side. If this is the 1941 Stanford Pumper on the official list, it is not nearly as cared for as the privately owned ones.

But then what would you expect for a publicly owned fire truck no one wants? They would treat it like they do the privately owned ones?


Business as usual for our chief. Another way to screw the taxpayer.


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Many thought I was blowing smoke.

Soon you will see the fire.


I said many times the current board of commissioner was eager to raise taxes without added value to the citizens and they will soon be proving this true.


Last summer, leading onto the fall election, a hush-hush group lead by commissioners Bill Gates and Jim Fossos, under the eager direction of a fire chief salivating to preserve his $340,000 severance check, (it will be treated like a bonus for screwing the taxpayers) commenced meetings to merge our larger district with a smaller district. Once accomplished, our chief will be deemed no longer needed, services will be terminated without cause and he gets a fat bonus from your wallet. Sweet!!


To be clear, rather than logically add the smaller district into the larger one, the proposal would be to annex the larger into the smaller.


Because it will raise your taxes.


You wisely turned down the Service benefit Charge in 2010 because it could have raised your taxes by up to 66%.

You cautiously passed an Excess Tax in 2012, only to be duped about the number of firefighters you were told would be hired.

So the chief and his cohorts found another way into your pocket. And a raise of up to 66% again, but at least a raise of nearly 30%

Currently the district collects about $16,743,752 per year in assessments. After the merge, that effective rate immediately jumps to over $22,000,000.

Without any increase in service. The excess revenue will not hire any new firefighters, put any new equipment into service or add one fire station to the area.

It will however raise your taxes and secure raises and benefit packages for current employees.

And easily offset the $340,000 termination bonus for the chief.

This news should break in the next month or so. Maybe sooner.

Now you know why the union wanted to keep Bill Gates at the helm.

They knew he was a dependable source of revenue. And cared not a whit for the citizens except for increased taxes he could impose on them for his friends and coworkers.

The added bonus for SKF&R employees, is this gets their tyrannical boss out and they get raises. Whoopee!

The bad news is there are still a lot of mini-me Church wannabes in the management.

But the real question is: Do you care?

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The April regular meeting did not have drama written in as an agenda item, but it showed up none the less.

The public comment section was longer than usual as some citizens showed up to mention items of interest. Subjects included the opening of the Des Moines Farmers Market and appreciation for the AED which was presented by the fire district last year, comments about the fundraiser basketball game between the fire district and the police department and all the good that will come of the contributions raised, and show of support from an employee for her boss.

It could have been the usual friendly banter of commissioners, employees and citizens.

But the charges made by the fire chief, and the failure for them to hit their mark, are still apparently festering.

Every meeting has another jab to the hilt. Last month it was the chairman himself wielding the shiv.

So much for those hollow words of the chairman, lets put this behind us and move on.




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Thank you to the South King Fire & Rescue Search & Rescue Team members for joining the efforts in Oso.

Last week, Gary White, Shane Smith, Paul Mernaugh, Travis McKenney and Roy Smith have given up the comforts of home and family to join the operations at the devastating mudslide in Snohomish County.

Thank you.




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Public statements against some of your elected officials being bullies is not Politically Correct.


Or speaking out against elected officials wasting tens of thousands in tax dollars.


Or speaking out against elected officials disgracing the honor of the the fire district.


Or at least not something any one of your elected officials is willing to do.


I have personally presented the case of fire commissioners Bill Gates, James A Fossos, Mark Thompson, John Rickert and Fire Chief Al Church doing all of these things to the below listed public officials and community leaders.


I have sent them public records that support each of these atrocities.


The Federal Way Mirror has reported on these claims.


Your elected officials and community leaders have ignored these facts.


Have you heard a whisper from any of them?


Where can I link to their response? If they are willing to stand silent, where is their integrity?


It is well past time you called them and demanded an answer.

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Is the union proud of their decision?


Will Bill Gates and Jim Fossos succeed in bringing our district to complete and total disgrace?



Are you there yet?


How can you remain silently on the fence?


Mr. Federal Way has spoken


Former Auburn Mayor Bob Roegner has written



Others will be coming out. Soon.



Where do I link for your public statement on this injustice?






These are your elected officials. Do you agree with the Commissioner Bill Gates and Jim Fossos comments (after the 23:30 mark) in a public meeting? Were they respectful? Did they add anything of value? Would you have allowed, or confronted, it in one of your meetings?


Are you going to call them about it?


Comm Freitas noted earlier that the north wall had been redecorated. He mentioned that removed was a plague that said “We will respect each other and their opinion, and we will hold each other accountable to confront inappropriate behavior, or behavior that does not add value.”



Chair Gates chose a positive comment Comm Freitas was making to Lt. Bellinghausen embracing the position of CAO to drag up something from months ago.


Chair Gates reluctantly ‘allowed’ Comm Freitas to address Lt. Bellinghausen then spent the time formulating a personal attack.


When a body votes 4-1 to adopt something, the natural position, the mature path, is accept you were outvoted and move on. The decision is made and we all need to embrace it and move forward. Same thing with a 3-2 vote. For the good of the body and the organization, you accept it and move on. It happens the world over.


Unless you are Chair Gates. Months later, he is still fuming at the fact that Comm Freitas voted against the extra expense of a CAO.


Starts at about 25:00 with Chair Gates pandering to Chief Church and calling out Comm Freitas to explain himself. Then, like clockwork, Comm Fossos chiming in with another of his snide editorials.


Are you going to call them about it?


Or are you too afraid of the bully? Shame on you!

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A new installment in our local Soap Opera wrapped up this evening as the regular meeting of the board of commissioners got under way.

(I did not make this connection. Mr. Federal Way put the junior-high spin on the juvenile behavior at the fire district. Paired it with another, supposedly unrelated, event in our area. The irony is not lost)



A few things of note. First, an excellent presentation of how he is raising awareness of services and activities in our community by Lt. Jeff Bellinghausen, recently assigned Community Affairs Officer for South King Fire & Rescue.

This starts at about 14:30 and goes for several minutes, well worth watching to hear how the district is reaching out to the community and how you can interact with the district.


Secondly, the most recently hired firefighters have completed probation and become numbered badge employees at South King Fire & Rescue.

Welcome aboard, everyone. Sorry for the bad camera angle.


Then the boring stuff. Skip this if you don’t want to hear my voice during Public Comments asking why the district is shutting the door on hundreds of thousands in cash for non-encumbering easement, and would rather saddle the taxpayers with additional tax burden in coming years.

And an opinion piece that was interrupted by Comm Fossos about the witch hunt against Comm Freitas.




Then a memory lesson and some bullying. Do you recall at the end of the Special meeting on March 10th, Chairman Gates was eager to announce the attack on Comm Freitas was behind us and he was eager to move forward?


Apparently not very far forward, though.


You can never please this guy.


Do exactly as he says and you are wrong, every time. Both him and Comm Fossos were spectacles, again, this evening.


Today, Chair Gates chose a positive comment Comm Freitas was making to Lt. Bellinghausen embracing the position of CAO to drag up something from months ago.


When a body votes 4-1 to adopt something, the natural position, the mature path, is accept you were outvoted and move on. The decision is made and we all need to embrace it and move forward. Same thing with a 3-2 vote. For the good of the body and the organization, you accept it and move on. It happens the world over.


Unless you are Chair Gates. He wouldn’t know maturity if it sat on his head. Months later, he is still fuming at the fact that Comm Freitas voted against the extra expense of a CAO.


Starts at about 25:00 with Chair Gates pandering to Chief Church and calling out Comm Freitas to explain himself. Then, like clockwork, Comm Fossos chiming in with another of his snide editorials.

Is Comm Thompson looking a bit uncomfortable as he sits between Comms Gates and Fossos?


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Update – From another concerned citizen

At great expense to the fire district Al Church sent his disgruntled employee letter to Bill Gates, who cherished it as an excuse to skewer Mark Freitas.

Instead of taking a leadership role, Bill gates bought into the false interpretation of the time to retire statement,  which was well supported by ample explanation not even approaching age discrimination, and contacted his buddy Jim Fossos, who brought in Al Church’s layer, who also, if you can imagine, is the attorney for the fire district, to put forth an ‘independent investigation’ with another buddy on the outside.

The complaint is the musing of a frustrated disgruntled employee. Pure and simple.

Every ‘charge’ against Commissioner Mark Freitas is weakened by the simple fact that his employer had clear established contractual expectations and the employee had failed on so many of them that it was time he was called out for it.

Many could have been dealt with internally on a more supportive nature had the chief just met the most basic of requirements, attend the board of commissioners meeting. Which is a condition of his contract.

But apparently, even though the required monthly meetings for next year are scheduled at the last meeting of the year, the chief could not make attending a priority, missing several. Prompting Commissioner Freitas to ask “Where is the chief?”

I can and will chronicle many other laughable ‘complaints’, but I am very curious about anothe development.


Where is the outrage?


We have several elected officials in our region, any one of which could have had these false charges levied against.


Had it been a complaint against Skip Priest, people would have come out of the woodwork taking a position for or against the accuser. In fact, that scenario played out more than once.

Many spoke on the Kelly Maloney-Skip Priest situation.


Starting the day the travesty was exposed, and as of this morning, I personally have contacted several ‘leaders’ in our community asking them to do two things.

First, contact Mark and tell him you support him in this time of attack. I understand a couple have done so.

And second, make a public statement that you do not condone the bullying activity that is taking place.

As of today, only a couple have spoken, according to the article in the Federal Way Mirror.


So what am I to think when these same ‘leaders’ come to me asking for my support? In their next election, on their next project, in their next big plan?


Their character is on the line.


I do not condone the actions of the majority of the board of commissioners to fail in their duty to deal with the only employee they are in charge of hiring/firing.

I do not condone the actions of the majority of the board of commissioners to protect the integrity of the district as we move into more difficult times.

I do not condone the actions of the majority of the board of commissioners to wage war against a fellow commissioner who, by all accounts in the disgruntled employees complaint, was doing his job as he was elected to do.

I do not condone the actions of the majority of the board of commissioners to abuse their authority as an excuse to bully.

Do you?



What do I have to lose?

Is there any reason why I should not expose a list of the people who have been provided the actual complaint, complete investigation, and otherwise apprised of the facts in this case and still remain silent of the obvious?


Do they deserve protection?


So the list of irresponsible public servants begins:




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