I’d like to offer a rebuttal to a portion of Mr. Keith Matthews’ letter. I thought Mr. Matthews’ letter was well written and was very cordial to the hard-working firefighters.
I have been a resident of King County Fire District 28 for 35 years. I am a retired battalion chief. I worked for Tukwila Fire Department for 34 years and was a Kent Fire Department volunteer for three years prior to that.
Fire Commissioners Dave Hannity, Chris Ingham and Ryan Terhune were faced with a dwindling to nonexistent volunteer firefighter force in Cumberland. The fire commissioners decided to address this problem by staffing a resident volunteer firefighter facility on the grounds of Station 2 in Cumberland. The response time from the headquarters station in Enumclaw to Cumberland is approximately 22 minutes. This response time was simply unacceptable to the fire commissioners and to the citizens in Fire District 28.
A barracks-style mobile home facility was researched by the fire commissioners. Their investigation revealed the cost was prohibitive as structural estimates were given in excess of $185,000. Several other options were looked into including a foreclosed home and an older mobile home. Both options were discarded because the cost to repair them exceeded the budget. Following a vote, the decision was made to purchase a two-year-old mobile. Commissioner Hannity abstained from this vote as the mobile home being considered was part of the Dravis Estate, an estate that Hannity‘s wife was a part of. Commissioner Hannity was not named in the will and therefore was not part of the estate.
The asking price for the mobile home was $115,000. The original purchase price was $135,000 two years prior. When the Dravis Estate realized District 28 was interested, they dropped the price to $85,000.
This decision was made with complete transparency as the fire commissioners’ meetings have always been open to the public and anyone could have attended and added input for or against this issue.
During the 14-month permit process the King County Building Department mandated the following requirements and additional costs: a septic system that would accommodate 70 people ($70,000) in additional engineering costs; a full concrete foundation system and tie-downs for wind shear; prevailing wage and benefits package for the construction workers (Davis-Bacon Act) approximately ($100/hour) per construction employee; the contractor had to post a $2 million bond.
During this 14-month period the mobile home could not be moved onto the property at Station 2. Commissioner Hannity personally paid the monthly space fee at the mobile home park where it was stored. This was done so the structure would remain dry and not be subjected to vandalism.
King County Fire District 28 currently has resident volunteer firefighters in Cumberland.
The reputation of King County Fire District 28 was not compromised but positively validated on this issue.
I am looking forward to Commissioner Hannity continuing his term as fire commissioner for King County Fire District 28.