Barclay follows in family’s footsteps

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Corinne Barclay had just graduated from high school with thoughts of becoming a photographer or travel writer. The Sebastopol native was also thinking of studying nursing when a teacher suggested she apply for a job with Cal Fire.

“I grew up in a farm area of Sebastopol and we have a big family. My uncles were all firefighters and two of my cousins also went into fire fighting. I didn’t think I could get a job in Cal Fire, but I applied anyway and here I am,” said Barclay.

Fifteen years later, Barclay, soon to turn 32, and mom to a 6-year old daughter named Stella, hasn’t just made it as a professional firefighter — she’s reached the rank of inspector. She’s become an expert in areas of hazardous materials and pollution, as well as fire prevention. She’s been with the Petaluma Fire Department for four years, and previously served as a fire inspector for Sonoma County and the City of Roseville.

She currently manages the fire department’s weed abatement program and serves as a member of the Sonoma County Hazardous Materials Team. Barclay also is on the Sonoma County Fire Investigation Task Force, and serves as Secretary for the Sonoma County Prevention Officers. Barclay also goes to elementary schools and teaches kids about fire prevention, with an emphasis on making the rooms safe for those children with disabilities.

According to Petaluma Fire Marshall Cary Fergus, Barclay was named Firefighter of the Year because of a “tremendous work ethic and enthusiasm” that she brings to everything she does.

“Inspector Barclay clearly loves her job and serving the people of Petaluma,” said Fergus. “She is not just an expert in the fields of prevention and hazardous materials, but she’s a first-rate fire fighter.”

Among Barclay’s recent achievements was the uncovering of a hazardous gasoline leak that could have harmed the city’s water supply.

In December of 2013, Barclay uncovered a potentially devastating water pollution situation involving the city’s ground water and gasoline storage tanks at a Valero gas station on 532 East Washington Street.

“While conducting an underground storage tank inspection at a local gas station, Fire Inspector Barclay identified numerous Class 1 violations (defined as posing a significant threat to human health or safety or the environment) that could have threatened Petaluma’s groundwater system.”

Barclay immediately closed the gas station, and, according to Fergus, “proceeded to re-write” the Administrative Enforcement Order policy, preparing a “very detailed, 300-plus page investigation report” which was referred to the Sonoma County District Attorney. As a result, Arash Salkhi, who owns the Valero station, as well as a number of gas stations in Sonoma under his parent company, Santa Rosa Grand Petroleum, corrected and upgraded his monitoring systems for protecting against gasoline leaking into the city’s water supply. Sonoma County won a $49,500 settlement from Salkhi, of which $37,000 went to the Petaluma Fire Department.

“The real prize was that Petaluma’s valuable groundwater system was protected. This case wouldn’t have come forward without Corinne’s initiative and perseverance,” said Fergus.

On March 26, Barclay will be recognized at the Petaluma Community Awards of Excellence event co-sponsored by the Petaluma Area Chamber of Commerce and the Petaluma Argus-Courier.

For tickets to the event and more information, call 762-2785.

(Contact E.A. Barrera at ernesto.barrera@arguscou

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