Girdwood Fire and Rescue Inc is a non-profit organization under contract to The Municipality of Anchorage to provide Fire, Rescue and EMS services to the Girdwood Valley Service Area and the Turnagain Arm Community.
Did you know that Girdwood Fire Department produces some top notch firefighters? We typically lose a few members of our rank each time Anchorage Fire Department (AFD) hires new firefighters. This year, we would like to congratulate not one, not two, not even three, but four of our members for making it through the grueling and highly competitive hiring process and ultimately being hired by AFD!
We are committed to providing the highest level of care and services to our community.
Since our incorporation we have worked hard to provide our members with high quality training that best meets the needs of the Girdwood valley. In-house training is offered for members to receive three levels of EMT certifications, two levels of firefighter certifications and many additional certifications that help improve the level and quality of care provided. Members attend regular ongoing training to maintain their certifications and stay current on standards of practice. In an ongoing effort to keep costs low while still proving a quality service we frequently apply for, and are selected for, grants for equipment and apparatus.
Originally established in 1959, the fire department provided fire protection services with a military surplus jeep and a WWII era 250 gallon per minute (gpm) "duce and a half". Girdwood EMS was established in 1974 after two Alyeska resort employees were attacked and seriously wounded. It took over an hour and half for an ambulance and medics to arrive from Anchorage to treat the victims. Local Girdwood residents organized and petitioned the Municipality of Anchorage to provide an ambulance allowing the Fire Department to provide Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in Girdwood. Past Fire Chief John Trautner conducted Girdwood's first EMT class that fall. In 1978, a new fire station was constructed and two new Segrave/FWD 750 gpm Fire Engines were purchased. In 1979 a second ambulance was provided to transport rescue gear.
In 1998 with the help of the community, Girdwood Volunteer Fire & Rescue was incorporated as a 501(c)(3) not for profit organization and contracted by the Municipality of Anchorage to provide EMS, fire and rescue services for Girdwood and the surrounding area. We are a member run organization that focuses on providing quality services to the residents of Girdwood and Turnagain Arm. We work with the Anchorage Fire Department to provide support for the Girdwood Valley during larger incidents. The Girdwood Fire Department maintains a relationship with the local firefighters union, jointly working on fundraising events like the yearly "Fill the Boot" for MDA.
Girdwood is a rural community in Alaska. Our coverage area consists of 172 square miles with a population of 2800 residents and also encompasses hundreds of square miles of irreplaceable, environmentally sensitive wilderness areas that are home to threatened, endangered, and sensitive species. Roughly 95% of the land is public. We are the first responder to any incident involving the transportation corridor that contains the Alaska Railroad, the Seward Highway and the ENSTAR gas transmission pipeline. This corridor also contains the longest (2.5 miles) combination car and train tunnel in the United States, serving the critical deep water port at Whittier.
Girdwood's infrastructure includes residences, schools, day care centers, churches, restaurants and stores. We protect the largest ski resort in Alaska that includes a five star hotel that routinely hosts international events that in the past has included the Special Olympics, Alpine National Ski Championships, the Arctic Winter Games and the National Governors' Conference and frequently serves as a site for diplomatic meetings that include international leaders. We protect a National Forest Service Visitor Center, two Department of Transportation maintenance and operations facilities, two Railroad stations, a strip mall, a major water and wastewater treatment plant, as well as four electrical substations.
The Girdwood service area is located in a major seismic zone famous for the 1964 9.2 earthquake. Terrain ranges from 7000 feet in elevation to sea level at the shore of Turnagain Arm of the Pacific Ocean. Girdwood also has many single family homes, half of which are in an area without hydrants and presenting a large urban/wildland interface problem. Mutual aid is also given and or received to the following departments and agencies. Anchorage Fire Department, Hope Fire Department, Cooper Landing Fire Department, Whittier Fire Department, Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, State Of Alaska Division of Forestry and the Alaska State Troopers.