Silverdale, Wash. – The Board of Fire Commissioners for Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue unanimously approved a Capital Facilities Plan at its meeting on November 12. The Plan identifies consolidating and improving nine fire stations to enhance community safety and create a healthier work environment for firefighters.
Many stations are nearly 60 years old, and none are up to current seismic standards. Engineers have identified several that would be in danger of collapsing even with a small earthquake. This could jeopardize the ability of personnel to respond to emergency calls during such an event. Several stations also are located significant distances away from populated areas, which increases emergency response times.
Improving firefighter health and safety also is an issue. Cancer is a leading cause of death for emergency personnel. The current stations lack effective exhaust removal systems and decontamination areas that reduce firefighter exposure to carcinogens and infectious diseases. Many stations also are not equipped with modern fire and life safety systems such as security cameras, commercial fire alarms and sprinklers.
The cost to complete the projects would exceed the fire district’s operating levies. As a result, community members may be asked to consider a bond sometime in 2020. There will be a public process to decide, but Fire Chief John Oliver says the time is right to make this request.
“The cost of the projects has been set at an amount where property owners would actually see a net decrease in taxes compared to what they are paying to the District in 2019,” he said.
The decrease is because a Maintenance and Operations levy is expiring and the fire district is paying off an old bond for apparatus. CKFR also identified savings on some projects to lower the total cost of the Plan. If the fire district decides to ask voters to approve a bond, the projected rate would be $0.32 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This is $0.02 less per $1,000 than property owners have been paying with the M&O levy and old bond.
CKFR spent two years reviewing its fire stations, and developing its Capital Facilities Plan. The fire district plans to hold community meetings after the first of the year to take input on the idea of bonding for the facilities. A copy of the Capital Facilities Plan, including a full list of station projects, is available on the CKFR website at ckfrdev721.wpengine.com. Fire Chief John Oliver also welcomes questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or (360) 447-3566.