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Fire District 7 contemplating changing its name

Tired of laboring under the burden of its formal Kitsap County district designation, Fire District 7 is considering a name change.

The district’s full formal name — Kitsap County Fire Protection District No. 7 — is unwieldy and rarely used by anyone in the district.

In addition, said Fire Chief Mike Brown, the name gives no sense of the area fire District 7 actually serves.

Locals have compensated for that disconnect by referring to the district by whatever name they choose — the district still gets checks made out to the Olalla Fire Department, a hearkening back to the days of local fire departments scattered at random across the area — but the district wants something that will make sense to visitors, as well.

“If someone’s driving down the street, we want people to know they’re in South Kitsap, not Fire 7,” said Fire District Commissioner Rick Metzger.

The district wants to be formally recognized as South Kitsap Fire District 7, a name it already goes by in the larger fire community.

Other options suggested by Brown, including South Kitsap Fire and Rescue and South Kitsap Fire and Life Safety, simply expand on that basic geo-centric theme.

The final name would likely be selected by the 200-odd district employees, who would have to vote as part of the formal 60-day name change process.

However, after the winner was selected, what follows would be less simple. The district’s logo is emblazoned on nearly every piece of property, from the vehicles to the business cards.

Brown believes the change, once made, should be immediately reflected to the community. The cost of such a move is significant, though — an estimated $53,000.

Even if the district just changed the logo on the most essential items — name tags, uniform patches and vehicle decals — the price tag would still top $15,000.

Several of the fire commissioners believe that’s a lot to shell out, especially when the district is already strapped for funds.

“If it’s important and folks think its an important thing to do, I’m not necessarily against it,” Metzger said. “But I don’t exactly see the point of running out and spending all this money.”

He suggested making the change through attrition, changing to the new logo as the old items wore out.

Other commissioners, including board Chair Dave Gelsleichter, agreed with this proposal and recommended letting the matter play itself out within the normal constraints of the budget.

A few, however, saw the name change as a chance to remake the image of the district. Commissioner Dusty Wiley, for one, came out strongly in favor of not only changing the district’s name, but the design of its logo and the color scheme of its vehicles as well.

Wiley expressed distaste for the use of blue on the ambulances and shoulder patches — a color he said was more in line with the U.S. Postal Service than a fire department.

He said so long as the name was getting changed, the district should kick in to get the patch redesigned with more fire-related colors and get the ambulances painted red as well.

No vote was taken, but it appeared that the commissioners agreed on one thing at least — the district needs a new name.

“I think we should start the process,” Wiley said.

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