By: Betsy Robertson
Lake Wenatchee is a unique community, located about 20 miles east of Stevens Pass, arguably providing the very best of what our northwest lifestyle has to offer. Residents and weekenders are presented with year-round recreation, including cross country and downhill skiing, snowmobiling, camping, hiking, fly fishing … the list goes on.
It’s what attracted a former Seattle Police Captain and South Precinct Commander, Bill Moffat to the area. He did and still loves to ski. But retirement in Lake Wenatchee is providing more activity than he ever dreamed.
“There are about 40 volunteer firefighters up here. No one is paid (except the chief) and they’re the happiest, hardest working group of people I’ve ever known,” Moffat said. He now serves as (volunteer) Assistant Chief for Lake Wenatchee Fire and Rescue.
When Moffat was first recruited to the volunteer force about four years ago, the Chief asked him to start installing smoke alarms in residential buildings in their community. A small supply of alarms provided by a grant from the State Fire Marshall’s office was enough to get the program started. He let his new neighbors know that alarms were available for free installation- and word quickly spread. Before long, demand far outpaced supply. Moffat tapped every resource he could find in Chelan County, rounding up alarms from other stations, but requests kept coming.
“I can’t tell you how many homes I’ve gone into that didn’t have a single alarm,” Moffat said. “We have a lot of weekend rentals and second homes. People just don’t have time to or think about taking the same safety measures they would at home.”
Then someone suggested he contact the American Red Cross.
Amanda Appel was working as a Disaster Program Manager in the Wenatchee office of the Red Cross. In that role she was tasked with executing the prevention arm of the Red Cross Home Fire Campaign called “Sound the Alarm,” – installing hundreds of alarms in residential homes throughout the area.
“It was a match made in heaven,” said Moffat. “I needed alarms and she needed someone to install alarms.”
On the day of this interview, we delivered 100 new alarms to the station, putting Bill Moffat and his team “back in business” for the dozens of homes currently on their wait-list. To date, Moffat says his department’s partnership with the American Red Cross has resulted in 820 alarms and 795 batteries installed in 289 homes within Lake Wenatchee Fire and Rescue’s jurisdiction.
“I’ve met so many cool people, been in cool houses and had interesting experiences, I just love it,” Moffat said.
Fire prevention efforts are a luxury for volunteer departments that have to focus primarily on response. He feels fortunate to have the time and energy to devote to the cause, and to have recruited others for help. Moffat notes what an incredible community relations campaign it has been, garnering tremendous amounts of goodwill and trust for their department.
Though unwilling to take any personal credit for the success of installation efforts in his community, Bill Moffat and the team in Lake Wenatchee are making people and families safer. On more than one occasion the department has responded to fires at homes where smoke alarms were installed just weeks before. It’s the reason the American Red Cross is so focused on Sounding the Alarm about home fires and why partners like Bill Moffat are so critical to that effort. In short – they are, our heroes.
To learn more about the American Red Cross Home Fire Campaign and Sound the Alarm, visit: