Schmick upset at Pullman fines over flooding rescue

Joe Schmick

PULLMAN — A Washington state legislator is angry about the Washington Department of Labor and Industries fining the city of Pullman in response to its rescue efforts during the April 9 flood.

On Monday, the city announced that Labor and Industries fined the city $2,700 for three safety violations that occurred when the Pullman Fire Department used a front-end loader to rescue people stranded in the floodwaters on Grand Avenue. The penalties were in response to city employees not following certain safety protocols while using the equipment.

The flood occurred when heavy rain caused Missouri Flat Creek to overflow onto the roadway. Overall, first responders rescued 22 people, including an infant and a person with a diabetic emergency. Ninth District Rep. Joe Schmick called the state’s actions a “fiasco.”

“To me, this is just ludicrous,” he said. “This is government run amok.”

Schmick said he has spoken to Labor and Industries on the phone twice and will call the department’s director today to express his concerns. Schmick said the department should refund Pullman the money and write a letter of apology.

Schmick commended the first responders for their quick actions to keep people safe during the flood.

“The firemen saw an emergency situation, they thought out of the box so they could keep their people safe and rescue people who are stranded,” he said.

Schmick noted that Labor and Industries staff were not present during the flood and said he is upset the state would punish the city after the fact.

“I think the lack of common sense is apparent here,” he said.

He said the news of the fines has received attention from around the state.

“I think they ought to be admired and the whole community ought to be thanking the (firemen),” Schmick said.

Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.

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