Two fire measures on August primary

Clallam Fire-Rescue eyes lid lift, EMS levy

PORT ANGELES — Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue will have two propositions on the Aug. 6 primary ballot, a response to rising costs and a desire to increase staffing.

“It’s just basically inflation over the years,” Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue Chief Jake Patterson said. “We have rising cost for all aspects of our operation. We also want to expand services to better staff our Station 22 Dry Creek on Power Plant Road.”

Proposition 1 will be for a lid lift of the district’s regular levy, which is its funding source, from 96 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation to $1.50 per $1,000. The 54-cent increase would cost the owner of a $250,000 home in the fire district an extra $135 a year.

Proposition 2 will be for a 10-year EMS levy of 50 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which would cost the owner of a $250,000 home in the district an extra $125 per year. It would expire at the end of the 2034 unless renewed by voters.

The money would fund the fire district’s ambulance service, which has been funded by the district’s regular levy since it started in 2012.

The regular levy accounts for 83 percent of the fire district’s annual revenue, Patterson said. It is based upon a rate applied to the assessed property value for fire district residents.

Only voters within Clallam 2 Fire-Rescue boundaries will see the two propositions on the Aug. 6 ballot. The district surrounds Port Angeles on both sides, with the boundaries being roughly Deer Park Road on the east and Lake Sutherland to the west.

The fire district provides services out to state Highway 112 to Eden Valley Road, including Deer Park, Gales Addition, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Angeles, Black Diamond, Dry Creek, Elwha, Lake Sutherland and Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe properties.

You can check if you are inside the district by visiting the “Maps of Precincts & Districts” section of the county’s “Elections and Voter Registration” website at https://www.clallamcountywa.gov/162/Elections-Voter-Registration.

The district started reviewing its long-term revenues and developing a multi-year budget plan in September 2023 to see where it would end up, Patterson said.

“This wasn’t just a spur-of-the-moment thing. Overall, it is a comparatively big impact because it will allow us to increase our service levels for five to seven years,” he said, adding most levy lid lifts cover four to six years.

The fire district’s last levy lid lift was in 2020, to $1.36 per $1,000 assessed valuation, but it hasn’t been able to cover the district’s costs given the “skyrocketing unanticipated inflation,” Patterson said.

The other goal is to improve staffing levels, he said. The district has nine full-time employees and 30 volunteers. During nights and weekends, only two career people are on at one time, Patterson said.

“We’ve got nine full-time staff spread over four shifts, Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.,” he said. “Our goal is to staff all the time.”

The fire district has two full-time employees at the Gales Addition station, but the only housing is a single-wide modular next to the station itself. A replacement station would allow for 24-hour staffing, Patterson said.

Other levy lid lift goals include filling the deputy fire chief position vacated in early 2024; fully funding a capital purchase program for replacing vehicle and equipment; developing a facility master plan; sustainable funding for the fire district’s volunteer training coordinator; recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters and EMTs; and sustainable funding for current career staff of four firefighter/paramedics and five firefighter/EMTs.

Proposition 2 would provide sustainable funding for the district’s Advance Life Support/paramedic service levels; fund EMS supplies and equipment; establish a capital purchase fund for replacing larger EMS items, such as cardiac monitors, gurneys and ambulances; sustain funding for existing career staff, which includes four firefighter/paramedics and five firefighter/EMTs; hire three firefighter/paramedics/EMTs to increase staffing at Fire Station 22 in Dry Creek peak demand times; and establish a program to eliminate ambulance transport balance billing for district residents, allowing the district to bill insurance companies and write off the balance of residents’ bills.

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Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached by email at brian.gawley@peninsulanews.us.

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