Letter | Fire District merger will result in loss of community control

Dear Editor,

We, the retired officers and firefighters with 25 years of service with Fall City Fire District 27 have a message for the community. 

The District was formed in 1946 with a vision to serve the community. Fall City grew, and the Fire Department grew along with it. In 1973, the Community bought its first aid car with donations, bake sales, and various fundraisers. (It was a source of pride for the community of Fall City). Twelve volunteer firefighters became EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians).

The wolf is at the door. The union of District 10/Eastside Fire & Rescue wants to merge and take over. They tried this 30 years ago, but our community said No. This time again, the vocal voice is coming by the union pushing the merger. 

We believe the service and personnel we have is outstanding without this merger. We and all fire departments around us have Mutual Aid Agreements, so service will not change. 

If this merger passes, the community would lose local control. Three Fire District 27 Commissioners will be added to five District 10 Commissioners until their terms expire and District 10 Commissioners return to five and have full control on what happens in our community. District 10 partners with Eastside Fire and Rescue for fire/medical service, consisting of two District 10, two Sammamish, one Issaquah, one North Bend, one District 38 and one Carnation Commissioners as Board of Directors. 

District 27 would lose its cash reserves of $1,700,000.00, nearly paid-off station and equipment. All that we know of Fire District 27 will vanish. 

We, the retired volunteer firefighters of District 27 do not believe this passes the smell test. Please vote NO on April 23rd and keep local control. 

Thank you,

Dave Schiesser, Assistant Chief

Stan Kropi, Assistant Chief 

Dave Hart, Assistant Chief

Eric Soderman, Captain 

Gene Stevens, Lieutenant

Kevin Little, Lieutenant

Tom Brice, Captain/Past Commissioner

Kevin Hauglie, Firefighter/Past Commissioner

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  • Change can be difficult and especially with a volunteer fire department – I know firsthand having merged the North Bend Fire Department with District 10 twenty-six years ago. I see the same anger here with the volunteers. As the elected Mayor the statistical data disclosed the area was growing and so were our needs for a modern fire department ran by professional officers and a board. The merger gave the city professional command leaders and fire fighters; accountability; up to date training; a full time medic aid program; a full complement of fire fighters to work shifts, even if someone was sick or on leave; a full array of modern equipment with a replacement plan; career paths for the four paid fire fighters we had, who otherwise would have been a fire fighter for their career with no chance for promotion; a board of directors who understood the fire industry; and economy of scale on costs and liability. North Bend came to the breaking point of needing a full-time fire department – is this where Fall City is at?

  • This letter is proof of the ego and feared loss of legacy the retired volunteers in Fall City have with the Fall City Fire Department. I volunteered at Snoqualmie Pass and I hope to see it progress over the next 30 years and not be held back. The “wolf” this group vilifies is the staff – career firefighters. The career firefighters, aka the “UNION” Has served the Snoqualmie Valley for over 30 years. One difference between us union folks (wolves) and the retired Fall City volunteers – we have evolved over the last 30 years and are looking to provides services better any chance we can.

    This measure is about lower costs, improving service, and providing local control. This group seems to feel they’re loosing their personal control which isn’t the same as local conrol. This crazy notion that Fall City won’t get representation in the future is misguided. The “us against the world” mentality is also misguided. District 10 serves communities just like Fall City: Carnation, Preston, Tiger Mountain, Lake McDonald, and May Valley. I’ve seen commisioners come from all around the District over the years. Fall City will have representation as long as people are willing to serve and it is absurd to think that the communities within D10 are going to conspire against them. Fall City will be welcomed in!

    With a merged district, a Fall City Resident can run for commisioner and make it all the way to the EFR board. The Fall City community will be united with communities of similar demographics and give county residents living there a bigger voice as the District works with partner cities to provide better service. People aren’t beating the door down to be commissioner these days – If the Fall City community has candidates that are interested, they have pretty good odds of getting elected, especially with the Fall City community behind them – again there is no secret voting block within D10 conspiring to ensure Fall City doesn’t have a voice (fear).

    I want to thank the volunteer firefighters of Fall City for your service, but I disagree that this merger is a threat to your legacy. The career firefighters in North Bend have coffee with a retired North Bend volunteer nearly every day at the station before our shifts start. The relationship is a positive one and I challenge this group to set the same example.

    Jon Wiseman
    Valley Resident
    Supporter of Unions
    Supporter of Volunteers
    Supporter of better service and the Sno Valley Fire Departments working better together.

  • Each of the men on this letter should be thanked for his past service to the citizens of Fall City and to District 27. There is another man, however, who has contributed to and served the District more than anyone else it its history, who continues to serve it to this day, and who cares about this community and its fire department as much as anyone alive. That man is Chief Chris Connor. He publicly supports this merger as a citizen because he knows it’s a great opportunity for Fall City and the right direction for the future. He thinks it does pass the “Smell test,” and he and his nose have been leading this department for almost 30 years. And, given the passion with which a small group of people seem to oppose this, he does so at the risk of alienating decades-long friendships. He could easily sit silent in the name of impartiality, but he doesn’t. I don’t claim to speak for the Chief. He speaks for himself and has already done so in words and actions. He understands the District’s current and future finances far better than any of the men who signed this letter. I would challenge any of them to attempt to claim otherwise.

    To anyone who does not have his or her mind made up about this yet, or who has been influenced into thinking they should vote No, please take a moment to stop and really think about what all this means. There’s nothing “Former” or “Retired” about Chief Connor’s affiliation with the department or with Fall City. He is here today, making decisions not based on personal feelings or nostalgia, but on what he thinks is best for all of us, and he will be here after, no matter what happens.

    Don’t want to listen to the Union firefighters? Or the overwhelming majority of the volunteer firefighters? Or the many people who are unaffiliated with the Department but who support this merger because they understand what’s at stake? Then don’t. We all value the freedoms of opinion and voting this country provides.

    At least listen to the Chief. He has earned and deserves it.

  • The article above brings back great memories. It was an honor to serve with each one of those fine men as I too was an officer (Lieutenant then Captain) with District 27. Some of my fondest fire device memories were with these men and especially Chief Connor.
    There has been a lot of comments about how District 10 has been trying to take us over for years. The fact is, the merger discussions have happened twice. Once in 1989, and the current vote. Both were started with the idea of exploring regionalization as a way to provide stable funding and better service. In 1989, the discussions were between D10, D27, and D35 (Carnation) we were afraid of the same things I’m hearing from some people today, “They just want our new engines” , “They’re just dynasty building”, “We can do it better ourselves”. “We don’t want to lose local control “ So we the Firefighters and Officers along with some like minded citizens forced the Commissioners to withdraw from the talks without even giving our good citizens a say. So we did it on our own and have struggled ever since and have yet to be able to provide the industry standard 3 career Firefighters 24/7. Contrast that to D35, they made the bold step to merge into D10. The result, they immediately saw 2 career Firefighter staffing 12 hours a day 7 days a week. That soon moved to 3 person career staffing 24/7 which they have had for over 25 years. 3 years later they moved into a brand new fire station paid for by all the citizens of D10. They enjoy state of the art equipment and apparatus and whoever works out of that station instantly becomes part of the community.
    My deepest regret was that we weren’t bold enough to make the choice Carnation did or even give our Community the chance to decide. There is still hope, we can vote to be part of this tried and true larger community and give our neighbors the service we deserve.

  • Living Snoqualmie