North Whatcom Firefighter Passes Away

First Line of Duty Death in NWFR History

With regret, North Whatcom Fire and Rescue wishes to notify the public of the death of John O. Swobody.

John passed away Monday evening with his family and friends at his side following a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife Annette and his three children.

Later that evening, Fire Chief William Pernett told the family, “John will be greatly missed and our thoughts and prayers are with you all. His service to this community and those around him was sincere and upheld the mission of the fire district”.

Because his cancer was determined to have been caused by his profession as a firefighter, John’s death is considered to be a Line of Duty Death. John is the first firefighter to die in the line of duty in North Whatcom’s history. He will be honored as a fallen firefighter with due regard. The LODD funeral service is currently being planned by the family and NWFR. More information will be published as it becomes available.

John joined North Whatcom Fire and Rescue in July of 1999. He served this community in many different capacities including; Firefighter, Training Captain, and Division Chief. John responded to thousands of 911 calls and was kind, compassionate and giving. John was truly in the profession that suited him best.

North Whatcom Fire and Rescue is grateful for Firefighter Swobody’s service to our community. He will never be forgotten.

A Line of Duty Death (LODD) Public service will be held at Christ the King Church, 4173 Meridian Street, Bellingham on Saturday, June 16 at 10:00 a.m.

Protection Class Report for Whatcom County Fire District 4

In a fire, seconds count. Seconds can mean the difference between residents of our community escaping safely from a fire or having their lives end in tragedy.

That’s why this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme: “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” is so important. It reinforces why everyone needs to have an escape plan. Here’s this year’s key campaign messages:

  • Draw a map of your home by using our grid in English (PDF) or Spanish (PDF) with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.
  • Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.
  • Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can’t help them.
  • Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.
  • Close doors behind you as you leave – this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.
  • Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.




Sleepover fire safety for kids

Is your child safe staying overnight at a friend’s home? NFPA offers a free Sleepover Checklist to help parents answer that age-old question, “Mom, can I sleep over at Dana’s house?”Think upset tummies and lack of sleep are the biggest risks when your child is spending the night at his or her friend’s house? “Think again,” says Judy Comoletti of NFPA´s public education division. “Before you permit your child to sleep over with a friend, talk to the child’s parents. Depending on what you learn, it can either uncover serious fire dangers or give you peace of mind during your child’s sleepover.”

Ms. Comoletti says that eight out of 10 fire deaths take place in the home, with the majority of home fire deaths occurring late at night. “If you don’t know for certain that the friend’s home is equipped with working smoke alarms, and that the sleepover will be supervised by an adult, don’t take the risk; reverse the invitation and have the sleepover at your own home,” she adds.

NFPA recommends teaching children about the importance of fire escape planning in a positive, non-threatening style. “Ideally, your child is already well versed in home fire escape planning and drills in your own home. Before you permit a sleepover at a friend’s, discuss the importance of knowing how to escape from a fire wherever you are, including friends’ homes.” Ms. Comoletti also urges parents to empower children to ask friends and their parents about fire safety in their home, and to report to you anything that makes them feel unsafe.

“And when it’s your turn to have other children stay overnight in your home, make sure they know what your home’s fire escape plan is,” Ms. Comoletti adds.

NFPA offers this free Sleepover Checklist to help parents and caregivers consider the hazards, and make decisions about slumber parties and sleepovers.

Create a home escape plan
Develop and practice a home fire escape plan using NFPA’s home escape plan grid (PDF, 1.1 MB).