EFR deal needs number crunching

Fall City fire commissioners are waiting on a new round of number crunching to decide the fate of a possible link-up between Fall City’s Fire District 27 and Eastside Fire and Rescue, which could improve service.

Fire District 27 and EFR did a joint study last fall on how much the partnership would cost. Initial estimates put the district’s costs as an EFR partner at $1.8 million yearly. Currently, district revenues are less than $1.5 million.

Fall City Chief Chris Connor said EFR is working on a second round of geographic analysis that is expected to lower the estimated cost for Fall City to become an EFR partner. Those numbers are expected in March. Connor did not know whether those numbers will be low enough for commissioners to support the EFR link-up.

Fall City’s current challenge is maintaining and providing fire service in a shrinking district.

“That’s part of the challenge of all fire districts,” Connor said. “We can’t grow in size unless we join forces with other departments, or if a city annexes into the fire district.”

Right now, residents are annexing out of the district.

Portions of unincorporated Sammamish, now part of District 27, are expected to annex into that city as early as this year. When that happens, Fall City will lose 21 percent of its tax revenue, and district residents could see taxes rise to cover that amount.

A partnership with EFR could help Fall City maintain or even improve its fire response. For example, EFR would guarantee a minimum of three firefighters for emergency response at all times. Fall City has a minimum fire crew of two, and a total paid staff of 11.

Connor said the partnership offers other services, such as a public education department, that Fall City provides but cannot match at the same level.

Fall City fire commission meetings are 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of the month, at the fire station, located at the fire station, 4301 334th Pl. S.E., Fall City.

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