To address our community’s unprecedented growth and increasing numbers of emergency calls, Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue implemented plans for more staffing and to replace key emergency apparatus. The next step is addressing facility needs to improve community and firefighter safety. Over the past several years, we have worked with community members to develop a Capital Facilities plan that would reduce response times, improve firefighter health and safety, and shelter expensive apparatus.
Fire station locations and requirements are different than when we formed in 1942. Many of our stations are nearly 60 years old. None are up to current seismic standards, and could collapse in an earthquake. Several are located significant distances away from populated areas, which increases response times.
We also want to provide a safer operating environment for the firefighters who serve our community. Cancer is a leading cause of death for firefighters. Stations lack effective diesel exhaust removal systems and decontamination areas to reduce firefighter exposure to cancer-causing carcinogens and infectious diseases. Many facilities also do not have security systems, commercial fire alarms or sprinklers.
Our original plan was to ask voters to approve a bond during the August Primary Election this year. We delayed that request due to economic uncertainty from COVID-19. Now, the Fire District is asking voters to approve a facilities bond during the November 3 General Election. (A full list of station areas and improvements can be found here.)
Timing of the bond is important to minimize impacts to taxpayers. Two other taxing levies for emergency services will have expired at the point the facilities bond would take effect in 2021. We have completed the design and site work for most of these projects, which means they are “shovel ready” and would also help with economic recovery for our area.
The facilities bond is projected to be 32 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value (or no more than $96 per year for the owner of a $300,000 home). The bond would last for 20 years, but these stations would serve our community for the next 60 years. The following chart shows how the property taxes you pay to the Fire District would compare with the facilities bond. Rates are per $1,000 of assessed property value:
|Fire & EMS
|Maintenance & Operations Levy
|*Projected based on current data.