It would be my privilege to represent you on the Board of Commissioners for Fire District 7. My goal is to support effective fire and rescue services, build new capacity for future needs and be a good steward of your tax dollars. I believe it is imperative that we maintain and support our volunteer firefighters as they are the backbone of the district and will remain so for years to come. I am committed to serving our community and would be honored to serve as your commissioner. I would appreciated your support and vote this fall.
Earlier this year the current board of commissioners has authorized an exploratory study to build a regional fire service (RFS) with Ellensburg's KVFR. This is a growing trend with fire districts nationwide because it allows smaller districts to combine resources which strengthen the ability to serve their communities.
Running a department is expensive and there is a great deal of overlap that can be shared between departments. An RFS provides an economy of scale because overlaps on expenses such as equipment and personnel can be avoided. However, in order to combine two departments, the tax base must be equivalent between the two districts. I am hoping that this exploratory study proves successful and tax payers in the district see its benefits. If the benefits are clear, you as a voter and tax payer will be asked to vote on a levy tax increase possibly within the next two years. Please tell me what you think about this merger possibility.
The population of district 7 is growing and so is the call volume. To support this demand, we were able to hire nine (9) professional fire fighters with the help of a FEMA grant. These fire fighters are ready to respond to fire and EMS calls any time of the day. Having these professionals on staff means our district always gets the quickest response from first responders. This is a valuable asset to the entire district and takes the burden off of volunteers from responding to many of the calls that require Fire Department assistance.
Next year, you will be asked to continue to support the professional fire fighter program through a levy vote. This levy vote will be a property tax increase which will be used to pay their salaries and benefits. As commissioner, I support this program and hope you do too. I believe the time is right to have professional fire fighters on our team and keep them.
With eight stations,126 square miles of territory and 700+ calls a year, nine professional fire fighters cannot cover the demands of our district. We need a large army of volunteers to compliment our professionals. We need volunteers qualified to enter burning structures, fight fires, help with freeway accidents, wild fires and other duties that typically arise within our district.
As Commissioner of District 7 I will make it my priority to rebuild our volunteer force to help support this demand. I will assist the district Chief to implement a recruitment program to build our team. I will also assist the Chief to put a retention program into place to help our volunteer team stay engaged with the department.