King County Fire Protection District 10 (Fire District 10) reports call volumes have increased 19.4% compared to the same time last year. Fire District 10 is part of Eastside Fire & Rescue, which reported a 25.4% increase in call volumes from all its partners.
Fire district officials attribute this jump in emergency calls with restrictions lifting from the pandemic, people being more comfortable with socializing, and better weather drawing families outside. For example, technical rescue calls for hikers on area trails increased 107%. Medical treatment required for outdoor enthusiasts is up 400% compared to the same time last year.
“We anticipate call volumes will climb even higher by the end of the year,” said Fire Chief Jeff Clark. “It’s good to see people returning to their version of normal, and emergency services is an important safety net to have in place while this happens. Fortunately, we’re able to keep up with the calls thanks to community support.”
As part of Eastside Fire & Rescue, Fire District 10 funds emergency services separately and contributes revenue to the partnership that includes one other fire district and three cities in east King County. Fire District 10 is unique compared to the other partners in that it raises funding through a fire levy and a voter-approved fire benefit charge. The fire benefit charge accounts for 23 percent of emergency services funding for Fire District 10.
While a fire levy is based on a property’s assessed value, a fire benefit charge is based on a structure’s size and use. Smaller structures (such as single-family homes) are charged less than larger buildings (such as office buildings or shopping malls) because it takes fewer resources to defend them in a fire.
More than two dozen other communities have approved a fire benefit charge because they believe it is a fairer way to fund emergency services. Voters in Fire District 10 first approved a fire benefit charge in 2003, and have renewed it every six years since that time. The current fire benefit charge will expire at the end of this year, and is up for renewal on the August 3 Primary Election ballot.
The current average for the fire benefit charge is $0.29 per $1,000 of assessed property value down from $0.68 per $1,000 in 2017. More information about Eastside Fire & Rescue, King County Fire Protection District 10 and the fire benefit charge can be found at www.eastsidefire-rescue.org/154/Fire-District-10.