CLE ELUM – Kittitas County Fire District-7 is working toward the creation of a Regional Fire Authority which officials say would “create a more effective and efficient emergency response system for our community.”
Said Bill Dickinson, chair of the district’s Board of Commissioners, “Of the ten municipal fire service agencies in Kittitas County, only Fire Districts 2 and 7 provide full-time on-duty 24-by-7-by-365 firefighter services with strong and vibrant volunteer firefighter programs to back up the career firefighters.
“So, it makes sense that the two largest fire departments in the county should seek to reduce redundancy and achieve economy of scale.”
He said the other eight fire agencies in the county are volunteer fire departments.
“The ten local agencies mentioned here do not include wildland fire agencies from the U.S. Forest Service, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
“Further, Fire District-2 also incorporates Paramedic EMS services to the majority of the county whereas a good portion of the Upper County is served by a stand-alone (non-fire department) paramedic service.”
He said since April 2019, District-7 has held discussions with Kittitas County Fire District-2 more commonly known as Kittitas Valley Fire Rescue.
“Toward that goal, District-7 contracted with District-2 for the management services of their fire chief as a means of investigating the advantages and potential of consolidating these agencies.
“Since April 2019, District-7 voters improved our revenue stream by passing a Levy Lid Lift back to our original (1979) amount of $1 per thousand of assessed value. This has allowed us to retain our nine career firefighters. The Board of Fire Commissioners also added a supervisory Day Captain position in 2021.”
He said additional efforts include capital improvements to District-7’s firefighting fleet.
“In 2021, we are rebuilding three water tenders with new chassis. These are 3,000-gallon water trucks, since most of our area has no fire hydrants.
“In 2022, we will be rebuilding four new brush trucks, and in our capital fleet plan we will purchase one new fire engine in 2023.”
He said this year the district purchased the property adjacent to Station 7-2 located at Airport Road and SR970.
“This property will be used to create living quarters so that firefighters can respond from the fire station. This puts a staffed station on both the west and east sides of the district thereby significantly improving response times to all our citizens throughout the district.”
He said over the past two and a half years District-7 has made improvements to the system, while suffering under a global pandemic.
“District commissioners continue to work with the KVFR Board and Chief John Sinclair (our shared fire chief) to seek additional efficiencies.
“We will be working with KVFR to create a regional approach to fire and EMS services. All fire jurisdictions within Kittitas County are welcome and invited to join in the regional fire authority concept we are pursuing.
“Today, Thursday, Oct. 7, at 7 pm, District 7 and KVFR have committed to starting the process with a joint meeting of the boards at KVFR headquarters, located at Station 29, 400 East Mountain View Avenue in Ellensburg.”
He said the meeting is open to the public and that there would be an opportunity to attend the meeting virtually, too.
“Following this initial meeting will be a series of meetings within both fire districts to inform our respective citizens.
“Kittitas County is growing at a very rapid pace. In fact, according to a local developer, ‘we are already an urban county just waiting for the houses to be built.’”
Said Chief Sinclair, “That means we need to build our fire and EMS response system to meet the coming needs of the community.
“If people have questions, we want to hear them at these meetings or by contacting me personally.”
Contact Sinclair with a call to 509-856-7714 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.