Please Vote | Fire Chief Guest Opinion
March 30, 2012 · 11:51 AM
As your fire chief, I work on three basic initiatives: Ensure South Kitsap Fire and Rescue follows best management practices for our industry; ensure SKFR proactively measures progress for community risk reduction; and ensure that SKFR fosters a positive relationship rooted in open communication with our citizens that synchronizes services desired with services provided.
South Kitsap Fire and Rescue serves the largest population in Kitsap County. With 73,168 residents under our coverage ours is the busiest fire district in the county with 7,138 emergency calls for help in 2011.
For 2012, SKFR has the lowest tax collection rate and the lowest annual budget dollars per-capita of population served. South Kitsap Fire and Rescue also has the lowest taxes collected and the lowest annual budget dollars per emergency call compared to any other fire district in this county. SKFR is in its 12th year as an internationally accredited fire service agency through the Center for Public Safety Excellence.
The funding comparisons above serve as a snapshot that lends credibility to SKFR as a high value public service organization that consistently provides an efficient and effective operation with the precious tax resources their community provides. Using public safety best management practices as required through accreditation give citizens the biggest fire/EMS bang for their taxpayer buck.
We provide emergency services for the citizens of SKFR through eight staffed fire stations and eight volunteer stations. We have 102 career members and 60 active volunteers to accomplish this mission. Since 2006, SKFR has reduced its management and support staff by five positions, leaving 17 support positions. In a service industry less than 17 percent of the total is considered a lean and effective full-time support staff. All career Firefighters, Lieutenants, Captains and Battalion Chiefs are either EMT’s or paramedics since more than 71 percent of what we do today is emergency medicine. There are a total of 84 career members assigned to 24-hour shift and 17 career members in support. Six of the 17 assigned to support have a duel support and operational role to help SKFR meet its mission.ics
In 2006, voters approved the first six-year fire levy, and since then SKFR has reduced emergency response times by more than tree minutes. We did this by staffing Station 11 (Bethel Road) with two Firefighter/EMTs around the clock after the levy funding was approved. In 2009, SKFR voters approved the six-year EMS levy which allowed SKFR to staff Station 9 (Yukon Harbor) with two Firefighter/EMT’s around the clock. In both cases we received a federal SAFER Act grant to offset local property tax costs by nearly $2 million collectively.
South Kitsap Fire and Rescue’s 2006 temporary fire levy is set to expire at the end of this year. That levy represents $1.7 million of the total $12 million in property taxes collected for 2012. That equates to an average of 26.6 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on your home or commercial building. The median valued home in South Kitsap is right about $225,000, which means this home owner will continue to pay $60 a year to renew this levy.
If this renewal is approved, SKFR Fire Commissioners have promised through their resolution that they will only collect the same amount of tax in 2013 as they did this year.
This levy renewal will run for another six years and allows SKFR to continue the current level of service that we have worked so hard to build together. I urge all citizens to study this critical community issue by visiting the SKFR website (www.skfr.org) and through other credible sources and then make sure you vote when the mail-in ballot arrives at the end of this month.
South Kitsap Fire and Rescue Chief