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SKFR make changes, three station will close
South Kitsap Fire and Rescue will close three volunteer fire stations and cut 12 positions because of dropping property assessed valuation.
Station 18 at the Port of Bremerton and Station 20 at Rocky Point will be closed, while Station 7 at Wye Lake will become a district support facility, according to Fire Chief Steven Wright in a news release.
He said the three rural stations are outdated with deployment needs and have not been active in responses for more than six years.
“These areas are served currently by other stations and do not need to be kept as active volunteer stations,” Wright stated.
Wright announced SKFR is implementing changes to its operation following a five-month strategic overview of finances, physical resources and staffing levels that was prompted by ongoing recession with decreasing assessed valuation of properties in the district.
“While the district has been able to maintain a stable budget up to and through the current budget cycle, these decreases have pushed SKFR to its taxing limits of $2 per $1,000 assessed valuation,” Wright said in the press release. “This factor combined with the ending of a federal staffing grant in 2014, which provided funding for 12 firefighter/emergency medical technician positions over the past six years, has brought the need for change.”
Staffing changes went into effect June 1.
Wright stated during the past six years, SKFR has deferred purchasing and maintenance in order to maintain the 12 positions in accordance with grant requirements. He said with the grant obligation met, SKFR needs to reduce staffing levels back to the pre-grant staffing numbers to maintain and balance the budget while directing portions of its revenue to apparatus, tools and facilities updating.
SKFR has reduced seven of the 12 positions through attrition and it will work with labor representatives in determining the best way to reduce the remaining five positions in a reasonable timeframe, according to Wright.
Wright said after eliminating the 12 positions, SKFR will have 72 full-time and approximately 50 volunteers.
He said two personnel will be moved from two rural stations to offset the reduction in force and to address staffing deficiencies in higher call volume urban areas. Station 10 on Banner Road and Station 17 at Glenwood will remain open as volunteer stations. Staffing at the district’s headquarters station will increase from two to four because of high call volume.
Wright said he doesn’t anticipate any significant impact to response times or levels of service throughout the majority of the district.
“There will be a slight increase in travel time in some rural areas and an improvement in reliability of units in the suburban and urban areas,” Wright stated.
He said after re-deployment is completed, SKFR will have six staffed and six unstaffed stations covering 117 square miles.
Wright said the review process involved fire commissioners, labor group representatives, administrative staff and the citizen’s budget review committee.