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Fall City Fire studies Eastside partnership; study results to come out next month

Fall City’s Fire District 27 could get the green light to explore a partnership with Eastside Fire and Rescue this fall.

The district made a preliminary study of the link-up with EFR, and findings are expected to land on fire commissioners’ desks at their Sept. 9 board meeting.

Fall City currently has a mutual aid agreement with the Issaquah-based agency, which serves Carnation, Issaquah, North Bend, Sammamish and Preston. However, the Fall City agency is exploring more permanent links as a way to deal with fast-approaching annexation of some 22 percent of District 27’s territory into Sammamish.

Faced with the annexations, “We really don’t have a whole bunch of options,” Fall City Fire Chief Chris Connor said.

By joining EFR, Fall City could still provide fire service to that area, receive tax funds from it, and avoid reducing service to the rest of the district, Connor said.

“This would provide some longer-term stability,” he added.

If the district stands alone, there is a possibility that the district would be frozen to current manning levels, in which the district can guarantee a minimum of two firefighters on duty. By joining EFR, that number rises to three. The district may also be able to find other savings and efficiencies by being part of the larger organization.

Connor said that public hearings, giving Fall City residents a chance to weigh in on the partnership, would likely take place this fall.

EFR Chief Lee Soptich said the preliminary study should turn up any major benefits or red flags regarding the potential partnership.

Fall City is central to Issaquah, Preston, Carnation and North Bend, making it an important station, geographically.

With Fall City as part of EFR, “We’d be able to do things differently, and, we think, better,” Soptich said. “All of the current partners would benefit by having this partnership with Fall City.”

Soptich said EFR has learned a lot about creating partnerships.

“We know there’s a good amount of work that needs to be done and a ton of questions that need to be answered,” he said. “Right now, there’s a lot of promise.”

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