Letter | Fire district merger will allow Fall City to meet today’s safety standards

Dear Editor,

Now is the time. I am a Fall City resident, a former Fire District 27 volunteer, and a current Fire District 27 firefighter. In this coming election, I will be voting YES on Proposition 1.

As a third generation firefighter, I have seen a lot of change in the fire service over the last 30 years. Gone are the days of volunteers responding from home, being able to respond to emergencies with just one person, and fighting fire with minimal personal protective equipment. Today’s standards require certain levels of equipment, certain lifespans for equipment, and at least 3 firefighters at a fire to rescue someone trapped in a building.

Fire District 27 is staring down the barrel of these changes. There have been multiple times, even in the last few months, that someone has called 911, and only 2 firefighters have responded. This is unacceptable as a citizen, and as a firefighter. A three person minimum is something the firefighters have been asking for for years, but something the Fire District can’t provide with its level of finances.

In the coming years, the Fire District has close to 1 million dollars in capital expenses. The equipment needed to enter an emergency with poor air conditions expire at the end of the year. That alone will cost around $125,000 to replace. Our aid car is past its 10 year life span. That will cost around $250,000. Our water tender is over 20 years old. The cost to replace that is about $500,000. All of this does not even include other equipment the firefighters should have such as a second set of bunker gear. This is quite a large expense for a small taxing district. These things would be available immediately with a merger with Fire District 10.

Unfortunately, there are rumors and misrepresentations being spread by the opposition, meant to instill confusion, deception, and ultimately fear in our community into voting no. This information is false and misleading. To clarify the rumors:

  • The fire station in Fall City will continue to provide services to Fall City
  • Guaranteed three person career staffing 24/7/365
  • The firefighters in Fall City will be better trained
  • More than 75% of taxpayers will see a tax decrease in 2019

Please contact the Fire Chief if you have any questions or concerns. He has all of our best interests at heart and will give you the straight facts”
Chief Chris Connor: (425)222-5841 | cconnor@king27fire.com

Sincerely Yours,

Shaun Baker, Fall City

[Letters are not the views of Living Snoqualmie or staff. To submit letters email info@livingsnoqualmie.com]

Comments

  1. Terri Divers says

    I see this from a different perspective. With many years preparing comprehensive plans I see great things for the future of a STAND ALONE Fall City Fire Department. My fire taxes went from $723.08 in 2018 to $715.76 in 2019, down $7.30 and this is due to new construction in the Fall City Fire District area. This pattern should continue with all the new construction planned: 23 homes to be built on the Boeing property, 17 homes to be built on the corner of 324th and 202, many homes being built up in the Lake Marie area, homes all over town being built on vacant lots and older homes being remodeled and enlarged. Fall City Fire Department’s service area will not get larger, but many more new homes are inevitable and that will just boost Fall City Fire District’s future tax revenue.

    With the final payment in 2021 for the fire station GO Bond the $.06 per $1,000 of this Go Bond levy will drop off. Like all fire districts Fall City Fire Department will have capital asset replacement. Fall City Fire Department has stated they need 1 million for capital asset replacement in the next 10 years. This means 100K a year is needed and as you can see from the Fall City yearly financials, we are well positioned to do just that. Beginning in 2017 we have already achieved more than 100K collection for capital asset replacement out of the taxes we already pay.

    The Sammamish annexation was 9 years ago and we have already absorbed that loss of revenue. Between 2014 and 2016 we paid an annual excess (maintenance & operation) levy amount of $400K and between 2017 and 2020 we are paying an annual excess M&O levy amount of 475,000. We will need to vote to approve another excess M&O levy in the future but keep in mind this will be a replacement of the excess levy ending in 2020. When we look at future costs it’s important to remember that if we become Fire District 10 we will pay for any future GO Bonds for new or upgraded fire stations anywhere within Fire District 10’s service area.

    We can complete the hiring of the 12th career firefighter and become a 3 career firefighter station. We can continue the great volunteer firefighter program we already have that provided over 7000 hours of service in 2018 at a cost of just under $55,000. Let our volunteer firefighter program continue to add additional coverage beyond the 3 career firefighters on duty.

    We can continue the working relationship with the City of Duvall and Snoqualmie Fire Departments we already have in place to share resources, staffing and training. I understand last month that together the Snoqualmie Fire Department and the Fall City Fire Department held a swift water training class and 8 firefighters became certified. If EF&R is willing, let’s create a relationship with them on training also.

    Medical and fire response will not change with this merger. So much has happened since the 2004 wildfire that is being spoken of. Any wildland fires in the timbers will also be fought by DNR. Fire departments in King County have joined together in a King County Mutual Assistance and Interlocal Agreement. Mutual aid response is automatically dispatched per a pre-agreed upon response profile based on the incident type to assure the additional needed resources arrive in a timely manner.

    Now after 70+ years we need to perfect what we have and keep it maintained. What a great place to be! I personally prefer this approach and want to keep local control. I will be voting No.

    • Jonas Smith says

      Remember though, that with growth also brings increased call volume. Increased call volume puts hours on volunteer firefighters and time and miles on equipment and apparatus. Yes, economy of scale works in your favor if you are only speaking from the standpoint of lowering you taxes for the same level service. But when you look at the big picture, the long range plan, public safety levies typically need to increase with growth in small communities.

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