Time and necessity heals many troubles and King County Fire District 28 provides a good example of individuals coming together despite personal differences.
The opening months of 2014 for the district Board of Commissioners at times looked like a wrestling match gone goofy with open hostility among board members as well as the public.
When the fire levy failed in the 2013 general election, the lack of funds meant two firefighters and two administrative staff were laid off.Fire Chief Joe Clow resigned in May and interim Chief Doug Dawson returned to Enumclaw to take over the department. He was no stranger to the department, having served as interim chief in 2007 after Joe Kolisch retired and prior to Clow’s hiring.
Shortly after Clow resigned a complaint was filed in Superior Court by Ted and Mary Fehr against commissioners Stan McCall and Angie Stubblefield regarding alleged violations of open public meeting laws. The complaint has yet to be resolved.
Earlier in the year the firefighters union filed an unfair labor practice grievance.
District Attorney Mike Reynolds, who took over early in the year, appeared to have fire coming from all sides.
By The End
By close of the year the staff and board pulled together to deal with many tangled financial and governing challenges facing the fire district.
Commissioner Dave Hannity said the board approved a 2015 budget without any layoffs of firefighters or administrative staff and the district scored a $1 million grant for a much needed ladder truck and engine.
He said the entire process was a “team effort. The commission is working as a pretty good team. We’re working together.”
He said Reynolds has been instrumental in helping board members work through their problems.
Hannity said the grant solved a vexing problem for the district with its aging equipment. The grant writers, Firefighter Matt Williams and Capt. Don Brassard, were able to find a program where the district could get the equipment for less than $1 million. Hannity said because of their work the district did not have to come up with a matching $50,000 to receive the grant.
Another budget highlight noted by Hannity was the union agreed to not take any pay raises.
“These guys work hard,” Hannity said. “Everyone is doing more now with less and there are increases in calls every year.”
Hannity said the firefighters pay is “in the middle of the pack” compared with other districts.
“They’re not top dog (in pay) and never have been,” Hannity said. “They do a great job and I’m very proud of them.”
Another bit of good news, according to Hannity, was a pair of clean reports from state auditor’s office released in December.
“It was for 2011 and 2012,” Hannity said. “I am very pleased with that. It’s important.”
The commissioner said there will challenges ahead. The district will have to hire a fire chief this year and replace longtime district secretary Pam Wik.
“Pam will sorely missed,” Hannity said. “But we (the board) will put our heads together and come up with a chief and replacement for Pam.”