Letters to the Editor, March 29, 2019

Fire merger

Your Vote Matters

We, the retired officers and firefighters with 25 years of service with Fall City Fire District 27, have a message for the community.

The district was formed in 1946 with a vision to serve the community. Fall City grew, and the fire department grew along with it. In 1973, the community bought its first aid car with donations, bake sales and various fund raisers. (It was a source of pride for the community of Fall City). Twelve (12) volunteer firefighters became EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians).

The wolf is at the door. The union of District 10/Eastside Fire & Rescue wants to merge and take over. They tried this 30 years ago, but our community said “No.” This time again, the vocal voice is coming by the union pushing the merger.

We believe the service and personnel we have is outstanding without this merger. We, and all fire departments around us, have Mutual Aid Agreements, so service will not change.

If this merger passes, the community would lose local control. Three Fire District 27 commissioners will be added to five District 10 commissioners until their terms expire and District 10 commissioners return to five and have full control on what happens in our community. District 10 partners with Eastside Fire and Rescue for fire/medical service, consisting of two District 10, two Sammamish, one Issaquah, one North Bend, one District 38 and one Carnation Commissioners as Board of Directors.

District 27 would lose its cash reserves of $1.7 million, nearly paid-off station and equipment. All that we know of Fire District 27 will vanish.

We, the retired volunteer firefighters of District 27, do not believe this passes the smell test. Please vote “No” on April 23 and keep local control.

Thank you,

Dave Schiesser, assistant chief

Stan Kropi, assistant chief

Dave Hart, assistant chief

Eric Soderman, captain

Gene Stevens, lieutenant

Kevin Little, lieutenant

Tom Brice, captain/past commissioner

Kevin Hauglie, firefighter/past commissioner

Dave Hart, Fall City

No problem to fix, vote no

I volunteered for the Fire District 27 Consolidation Evaluation Committee a year ago, new to Fall City with no knowledge of the department. I ended up being the primary spokesperson when we shared our initial information with the commissioners, and then at the two public meetings. Our committee was created to evaluate options for the district, but it was hard to identify what problem we were trying to fix. Eventually I figured out that the commissioners didn’t want to rely on voted levies every 4 years that required 60 percent approval, and the union wanted a three-person career firefighter staffing 24/7 rather than relying on volunteers to supplement their nighttime staffing.

I don’t understand how these are “problems.” Our levies have passed with approval percentages any jurisdiction would be ecstatic about. And our volunteer program has a long history of dedicated and well-trained firefighters that were a valuable component of our 98-percent staffing at the three-person standard in 2017. Since then we’ve hired an 11th firefighter and budgeted for a 12th. And we always have mutual aid that all districts rely on for back-up and specialized crews. So what problem are we fixing?

I moved to Fall City because we wanted to be part of a community. Our businesses and the neighborhood that grew up around them are the core of our community. If we merge with Fire District 10 their Fire Benefit Charge will disproportionately tax our businesses. If we lose the businesses, we lose our community. It’s that simple.

I might save $135 – might… And I still feel so strongly that the merger is bad for Fall City that I volunteered to write the statement against Proposition 1 in the voters pamphlet. There’s no problem to fix and a big downside if we merge. I encourage you to vote “No.”

Nora Hightower

Fall City

Merge does not mean local control

When I saw “Local Control” on the firefighters’ yard signs I was in disbelief. How can they claim that we’ll have more local control if our Fall City Fire Department merges with Fire District 10? They have more than 15,000 voters compared to about 3,800 in Fall City.

Sure, our three commissioners will join their board… until their terms end. Then they’d need to run for re-election (after the board is reduced from 8 commissioners back down to 5 again). Do you think anyone from Fall City can win when Fall City voters are outnumbered 4 to 1? Do you think Fire District 10’s board will care about our Fall City community? Now we elect three commissioners who know our community well and can easily respond to our local needs. Don’t change that.

Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate our fire department. In the 46 years I’ve lived in Fall City they’ve helped my family a lot, and always provided great service. I don’t want to give my fire department to Issaquah. Merging with a more regional fire department is a step toward losing our community.

I want to keep our fire department and commissioners local as an important part of our small community.

So, no, merging with Fire District 10 definitely does not increase local control. It’s quite the opposite. And if the firefighters are saying that it does, how can I believe anything else they’re saying?

I’m voting “No,” to the merger.

George Robertson

Fall City

No to someone else’s bean counting

In 1973 the Fall City community redoubled its love affair with our fire department. That was the year that Medic One developed the paramedic and EMT programs in King County.

Twelve (12) of our volunteers and two of their wives took EMT training. The community raised the price of the new, modern aid car within a 90-day period. This was done through such efforts as benefit dances, spaghetti feeds, rummage sales and raffles. The service we were able to provide was a quantum leap above anything known before.

As time went on, the community provided for the department’s needs without hesitation. That attitude exists through this day.

Our fire department has provided our sleepy little town with endless comfort. We’ve never been a large enough population center to command the presence of a full paramedic station. Our police precinct was short lived during a time of county budget cuts. However, the fire department was a constant that provided emergency manpower whenever needed. Volunteers once filled the personnel requirements of this service. When the call count grew above 500 per year, it became impossible for volunteers to keep up the pace. So, we now have a full compliment of paid personnel and are manned 24/7.

The town has never failed a levy. The crew continues to provide extraordinary service.

Do we really want to expose that service to the whims of someone else’s bean counting? I say, “No.”

That said, let us proceed with the election, be content with the outcome and return to our congenial Fall City “way of life.”

Gene Stevens

Fall City

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