Wilkeson chooses Buckley, Carbonado for fire service

If there is a fire or medical emergency in Wilkeson, the Buckley and Carbonado fire departments will be first on scene.

If there is a fire or medical emergency in Wilkeson, the Buckley and Carbonado fire departments will be first on scene.

The Wilkeson Town Council decided to contract with the Buckley and Carbonado departments rather than remaining with East Pierce Fire and Rescue, which had been providing fire and emergency medical services to the community.

Buckley and Carbonado Fire Chief Alan Predmore said Wilkeson has been receiving services from Buckley and Carbonado for about the past two weeks.

Buckley is a predominately volunteer department with approximately 71 volunteers in Buckley and 18 in Carbonado.

Predmore said there are currently two volunteers living in Wilkeson station. He said five more from the Wilkeson area have applied.

The chief said he expects to have two live-in volunteers in Wilkeson by the end of August.

Once a volunteer is selected, the individual goes through an extensive education and training program.

On the Wilkeson website, under the mayor’s message tab, is a page application page for residents interested in volunteering for fire or emergency medical services.

Wilkeson had been in negotiations with East Pierce for fire services and appeared to have reached an agreement in May.

According to a release from East Pierce, the issue concerning the contract revolved around the difference paid by Wilkeson residents for services and the rest of the East Pierce district. East Pierce residents pay property taxes in the sum of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value for fire protection and 50 cents per $1,000 for emergency medical services. The release stated Wilkeson residents were paying less.

Pierce County Fire Protection District 12 provided services to Wilkeson prior to 2006 when the town residents voted to merge with East Pierce.

The Town Council agreed to a new contract with East Pierce in May and then, according to the East Pierce release, “Less than two weeks after agreeing to the contract, the town’s attorney sent Thorson an email informing him that Wilkeson had, instead, contracted with the Buckley Fire Department.”

Predemore said one of the issues for the council he had heard was they wanted volunteer firefighters in the community, rather than personal “always responding from Bonney Lake and South Prairie.”

The fire chief said Wilkeson officials asked for a proposal from the Buckley Fire Department in mid-March. Predmore said initially it appeared the council would go with East Pierce, “but suddenly things changed and there was a short period of time to put everything together.”

The fire chief said he has been talking with Thorson and noted all the adjoining fire agencies work together.

Predmore said Wilkeson will pay Buckley $13,400 per year and $12,000 to Carbonado.

The fire chief said Carbonado will benefit from the agreement with the funds to be able maintain equipment and it will move some equipment to Wilkeson.

East Pierce will remove its fire engine, aid car, a brush truck used to fight wildland fires and a generator.

Predmore said the Wilkeson service area is less than half a square mile with about 420 people. He estimated there is about one call per week.

Transport and paramedic services will be provided by  American Medical Response. The East Pierce release stated, “Residents of the East Pierce fire district receive ambulance transport with no out-of-pocket expense. Non-residents are charged the standard rate for ambulance services, which is between $700 and $1,000.”

Thorson said in the release if AMR is on a call, East Pierce will provide mutual aid, “However, we will bill for transport to cover our costs.”

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