The people of Enumclaw Fire District 28 have an opportunity to vote and approve a six-year operations levy that would strengthen the fire andEMT safety of our community. One of the goals of the men and women of Fire District 28 is having the ability to continue to meet and improvefire response times thus saving lives and property. This can only be accomplished by having the necessary funds, appropriate number of firepersonnel and equipment on hand to meet the current safety needs as the city of Enumclaw and the district grows.
Due to a growing senior population, increases in traffic situations and new homes, response times and calls over the past few years have beencreeping up for various reasons. There have been several occasions, due to concurrency calls, demand for fire and EMT service relied onbackup responders from out of our district. It is wonderful to have working partnerships with neighboring fire stations, however, having torely on out-of-area responders can impact critical response times and it takes responders out of their community leaving them vulnerable.Again, this is brought on by budget constraints to adequately address staffing needs and equipment.
With a new five-member board in place very careful consideration was given and it was concluded that an increase of financial resources,through a levy, would need to occur in order to address the fire public safety demands of our area and requirements set forth in the adoptedFire Master Plan.
There are many elements that go into fighting fires and medic responses that you and I may not be aware of. But, the one thing that you and Iunderstand is that when we dial 911 there is an expectation they will be there… and be there fast.
Our fire district is faced with a $316,000 operational shortfall and a $1.1 million equipment shortfall yet the call volume has increased by 33percent over the past five years, approximately 500 calls combined with a 25 percent decrease in staffing levels of on- duty staff over thatsame time period is placing fire safety as a severe disadvantage.
Concessions from firefighters have been made to help close the gap – equipment replacement schedules delayed and the EmergencyOperations Center (EOC) purchases have been delayed for disaster response due to lack of financial resources.
Believe you me, as mayor I understand the dilemma between not having the necessary dollars to meet the level of public expectations, nothaving adequate staffing levels, having to delay equipment replacement, not having funding to properly address infrastructure needs. While,at the same time, desperately trying to continue the standards of service that the public is accustomed to, expects and demands withoutraising taxes and fees.
An organization can only make cuts so long before a service level becomes so anemic that it ceases to function appropriately and effectively.
An organization can only deliver the level of services that fit within our budgets. Public safety is not an area that can operate effectively atreduced levels and simply scrimp by.
Passing a six-year levy will be the necessary step in the process to ensure that Fire Dist 28 meets the expected reliability of the people theyserve. This levy will allow our district stations to be appropriately staffed for all calls, all shifts, decreasing response times. Without passage ofthis levy reductions will occur, call times will increase.
Based on an average $300,000 home, the amount you would be spending with levy passage, would be $10.25 more per month. A small priceto pay for fire safety.
To provide the funding necessary to implement the level service that offers the community security and response times that ensure our livesand properties are properly protected, I encourage the voters of our district to support the upcoming Fire district 28 levy.
A small price to pay to ensure they are there in time if you dial 911.
Best wishes always,
Mayor Liz Reynolds
City of Enumclaw