Editor's Note: The following is a press release issued Wednesday by King County Fire Protection District No. 44 (Mountain View Fire & Rescue/Black Diamond Fire Department).
Significant loss of revenue has required the Board of Fire Commissioners for Fire District 44 to take steps to reduce the budget for the Fire District. The recession beginning in 2008 has reduced revenues available to operate the District and have significantly declined over the last five years.
"We have seen a loss of 1.2 million dollars over the last several years, seeing another reduction for 2013 of $ 283,686", said Chief Smith. "We have reduced the budget and augmented operations through the use of emergency operating funds, reduced our support and admin staff by five positions and not replaced a vacant firefighter position, it's gotten to the point that we will be required to make some significant reductions and these will impact our ability to provide emergency services, these are cuts we have tried to fend off, this is our mission we are talking about, what we are here for".
The Board of Fire Commissioners is considering placing a voter approved levy on the April 2013 Ballot. "We see this as an opportunity for the citizens to let us know what level of fire and emergency medical services they want", said Chairman of the Board, Commissioner Farrell. "We want to hear from the public first, before we make more serious reductions to the budget that will affect our ability to provide emergency services, we don't want to institute critical reductions without asking the public". "We have not increased wages for Chief's, staff and support personnel for several years, the Chief and Deputy Chief have turned down wage increases prior to this, we all hoped that things would improve, but it has been just the opposite".
The proposed levy would not replace the loss seen over the last several years, but would provide enough funding to prevent further cuts, to include reductions in career firefighters or closing of fire stations.
Fire District 44 is a "combination department" utilizing both career and volunteer firefighter EMTs. Career firefighters enable the District to provide a daytime response, when most of the volunteers are at work or attending college. The District has 19 career firefighters and an average of 75-100 volunteers, protecting 70 square miles out of eight fire stations. A career firefighter and captain are on duty 24 hours seven days a week, to provide supervision and oversee the department resources in the evenings. The District responds to an average of 2,000 incidents each year, over 70% of these are emergency medical related.
The Board of Fire Commissioners will be discussing the levy at the February 12 meeting and taking final action to decide on the levy at the February 26 meeting. Board meetings take place at the District headquarters station 32316 148th AVE SE, Auburn. Meetings take place at 6:30 p.m. and the public is encouraged to attend.
Comments and/or questions can be sent to email@example.com.
About Mountain View Fire & Rescue / Black Diamond Fire Department
King County Fire Protection District #44 (KCFD #44) also known as Mountain View Fire & Rescue / Black Diamond Fire Department serves approximately seventy square miles in South King County. We serve The City of Black Diamond and the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe but the majority of our area is unincorporated King County. KCFD #44 has approximately 150 volunteer firefighters, EMTs, and rescue personnel and 19 career firefighters.