Fall City to join EFR?

King County Fire District 27 in Fall City has asked Eastside Fire and Rescue to conduct a joint study that may lead to Fall City’s inclusion as a partner in the larger district.

While District 27 serves the community of Fall City and the surrounding area, Eastside Fire and Rescue (EFR) is a joint operation made up of the Cities of Issaquah, Sammamish and North Bend, as well as Fire Districts 10 and 38.

A consultant study completed earlier this year recommended that the district look into consolidation with another entity.

“Legally, it’s not a merger,” Fall City Fire Chief Chris Connor said. “It’s a partnership.”

The Fall City district would still exist as a taxing entity, and would still have a board of commissioners, but operations would be provided by EFR. All firefighters and officers would work for EFR. Connor said that joining with EFR could end up costing a little more, but would mean additional services. Fall City would get a better level of manpower under EFR. Instead of a minimum of two officers, there would likely be a minimum staff of three.

The reason the district approached EFR is due to continuing revenue loss, as neighboring cities annex Fall City taxing territory.

“We do face additional annexations on the radar scope,” Connor said. “As the fire district shrinks, it becomes increasingly difficult for us to continue to do what we are doing now.”

Citizens may attend monthly commissioners’ meetings, and Connor said a public hearing on the change will be held.

Several years ago, the district considered a merger. That plan stirred up “quite a bit of controversy,” Connor said. “We’re seeking to avoid that by letting the public know what we’re thinking about doing, taking our time and getting the answers to all the questions.

“We’re not in a huge hurry. We have time to work out the details and find out if this is the best thing for us to do,” he said.

Fire District 27 currently employs 11 full time employees, and has 13 volunteers. The annual budget is $1.5 million, and the district answered 749 calls in 2007.

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