Letters to the Editor

Firefighter encourages support for merger

With the Nov. 2 vote approaching, all the buzz around town and the fire department seems to be about the fire annexation. As an Enumclaw firefighter and president of Enumclaw Fire Fighter’s Local 3931, I often find myself right in the middle of the current discussions.

In fact, just the other day my parents had a couple of questions about the annexation.

“How much bigger would the fire department become if this annexation passes?” and “Will your work-load increase?” I then realized they knew very little about fire annexation and that maybe many of the other residents of the Enumclaw Plateau could benefit from a general overview of the benefits and impacts of the fire annexation.

To answer their questions I started by clearing up any confusion about the fire annexation having anything to do with the recent city boundary annexations. I went on to explain that, currently, the fire department serves two governing bodies, the city of Enumclaw and King County Fire District 28 (56 square miles of the county that surrounds the city). It’s sort of a partnership between the city and the district.

As of now, the city is the lead agency, with all the decision-making power, contracting fire protection and EMS services out to the fire district. If annexation passes, the city of Enumclaw would become part of King County Fire Protection District 28 (where fire and EMS services are concerned). The King County Fire Protection District 28 would then become the sole governing body comprised of a board of five fire district commissioners elected directly by the citizens of the city and the district.

With annexation, the fire district has one single focus. It will be 100 percent dedicated to governing the fire department, resulting in a more efficient and effective use of our tax dollars.

While our current agreement between the city and the district has assured that EMS and fire services are available, the increase of costs to provide these services has lead the city to consider this annexation as a cost-saving alternative, as opposed to staff and service reductions in the fire department.

Many cities are looking at ways to operate more efficiently and to maintain service levels, especially in emergency services. Annexations, mergers and other forms of consolidation are very common. They have been happening statewide as a means to create efficiencies in providing service. For instance, Kent, Covington and Fire District 37 recently merged to form Kent Regional Fire Authority. Orting recently annexed into Pierce County Fire District 18. Auburn, Pacific and Algona recently merged to form Valley Regional Fire Authority.

With annexation, the Enumclaw Fire Department will keep the same name and will remain the same size, both in personnel and area of coverage. The fire department will still be responding to emergency calls in the same fire engines and aid cars and to the same areas as they do today.

In January 2010, the city of Enumclaw’s City Council passed a resolution to place an annexation before voters as a ballot measure in November 2010. The King County Fire District 28 commissioners are in full favor of annexation. The Enumclaw Volunteer Fire Fighters Association and the Enumclaw Fire Fighters Union Local 3931 are in full support of this fire annexation.

Please vote “yes” for Proposition 1, Fire Annexation.

For more information about annexation please visit: www.enumclawfire.com

Joe Otto, president

Fire Fighters Local 3931

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