PROPOSITION NO. 1
KITSAP COUNTY FIRE DISTRICT #7
(SOUTH KITSAP FIRE AND RESCUE)
UPGRADE OF APPARATUS AND FIRE AND LIFE SAFETY EQUIPMENT BONDS $4,900,000
The Board of Fire Commissioners of Kitsap County Fire Protection District No. 7 adopted Resolution No. 2015-05 concerning this proposition for bonds. This proposition would authorize the District to upgrade apparatus and fire and life safety equipment, to issue $4,900,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within a maximum of five years, and to collect excess property taxes annually to repay the bonds.
Apparatus and equipment is SKFR’s greatest need and delay is costly
In 2014 the District’s Citizens Advisory Committee supported the development of a capital plan and recognized the need to present a bond measure to the voters to fund critically needed apparatus and equipment. Each day the current apparatus fleet continues to age and receives wear and tear as the crews respond to 911 calls on an average of 25 times every day.
Aging Fire Apparatus Concerns
- Overall dependability with aging drivetrains/interior’s/exterior’s/pumps.
- Limited safety features with apparatus that lack enclosed cabs, roll-over protection, safety interlocks, crumple zones, airbags, shoulder belts, anti-lock brakes or modern braking systems.
- Lack of large diameter hose connections, integrated foam systems, lower pumping and tank capacity and overall apparatus size being too small for today’s equipment needs.
- High emission levels (2006 and older).
NFPA 1901 Guidelines for First-Line and Reserve Fire Apparatus:
It is recommended that apparatus greater than 15 years old that have been properly maintained and that are still in serviceable condition be placed in reserve status. Apparatus that are over 25 years old should be replaced.
- SKFR’s current fleet of 13 fire engines, 6 are over 25 years old, 2 are over 15 years old and 4 are over 10 years old. The newest remaining one is 7 years old.
- SKFR’s current fleet of 7 water tenders (water tanker trucks) 6 are over 25 years old with the oldest being 38 years old.
If approved by voters, what would be the cost to a property owner?
For example, the ballot measure proposes an ongoing property tax levy which would cost the owner of a $275,000 home approximately $3.43 per month or $41.25 per year for a 5 year period. The impact will vary based on each property’s assessed value.
South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue and the Bremerton Fire Department have proposals on the November 2015 ballot. SKFR $4,900,000 apparatus and equipment bond at $.15 per thousand for a five year term. BFD $4,600,000 apparatus and equipment bond at $.22 per thousand for a ten year term. CKFR $6,725,000 apparatus and equipment bond at $.21 per thousand for a five year term plus a $7,200,000 Maintenance and Operations levy at $.25 per thousand for a four year term.
SKFR receives no ongoing county, state or federal funding. The majority of the district’s budget comes from two separate tax levies (Fire and EMS) from local property taxes.
Why does the Fire District need the money?
A message from Fire Chief Steve Wright
Like many fire districts, South Kitsap Fire and Rescue has been challenged with adequately maintaining its apparatus fleet and equipment during these tough economic times. The challenge resulted from the decrease in assessed valuation of properties during the recession and limited revenue increases needing to support the operations of the district and the increasing 911 service demand.
On November 3, 2015, SKFR voters will be asked to consider Proposition 1, an Apparatus and Equipment Bond measure. Proposition 1 would raise $4.9 million over 5 years to fund necessary upgrades to aging and deteriorating apparatus and equipment for both firefighting and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) delivery.
This last year, SKFR made some difficult decisions that included reducing career staff by 12 firefighter/EMT’s, modifying staff deployments and closing 3 fire stations. While these efforts have stabilized the district and created efficiencies, SKFR’s current financial resources do not provide adequate funding to maintain critical emergency services or to make the needed upgrades to apparatus and equipment.
In order to maintain critical emergency services, Proposition 1 will allow SKFR to upgrade 6 fire engines, 5 water tenders, 3 paramedic units and associated firefighting and EMS equipment.
This bond measure is essential to the continuation of emergency services for our community at the current level; it is SKFR’s most critical need. With this bond measure, SKFR would be able to budget annually the needed funds for future apparatus and equipment needs. The establishment and funding of an equipment replacement fund would allow SKFR to operate into the future from the jumpstart this bond measure would provide.
As your Fire Chief, I feel I have an obligation to present this bond measure and our financial situation to the voters. I need to inform the citizens of the challenges their fire district is facing and the impacts of future decisions that may have to be made if I don’t seek additional funding help and support from the community.
Who is South Kitsap Fire and Rescue?
- South Kitsap Fire and Rescue (SKFR) serves a population of approximately 72,046 and is governed by an independently-elected board of fire commissioners.
- The District covers approximately 117 square miles, including the City of Port Orchard and all unincorporated areas in south Kitsap County. This includes the communities of Gorst, Navy Yard City, Rocky Point, Manchester, Southworth, Olalla, Burley, and Sunnyslope.
- SKFR protects residents with 12 fire stations, six career staffed and six volunteer staffed.
- SKFR is a combination fire district with 72 career and 76 volunteer response personnel.
- All career firefighters at SKFR are also Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) or paramedics and are able to respond to medical emergencies, fires and rescues.
- SKFR volunteers fill roles as Firefighters, EMT’s, Tender operators, Breathing Air support and Chaplains.
- Last year SKFR emergency personnel responded to 9,068 emergency 911 calls, an average of about 25 per day. Three out of every four 911 calls are for medical emergencies.