Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue released a draft Capital Facilities Plan for public review. The agency has spent two years conducting a comprehensive assessment of its fire stations. The 635-page plan identifies needed facility improvements for community safety and firefighter health.
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 District’s ability to respond to emergency calls during such an event. Several stations also are located significant distances away from populated areas, which increases response times.
The 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.
“Fire station locations and requirements are different than when we formed in 1942. Since that time, we also have learned that cancer is a leading cause of death in firefighters,” said Fire Chief John Oliver. “This plan is an important step in planning for the well-being of our community and its firefighters.”
The Capital Facilities Plan calls for consolidating, replacing or remodeling nine stations. The cost of capital projects would exceed CKFR’s operating levies. As a result, the District will consider asking voters to approve a bond sometime in 2020.
If approved by voters, property owners are projected to see a net decrease in the amount of taxes compared to what they are currently paying to the District. This is because a Maintenance and Operations Levy is expiring, and a bond for apparatus and equipment will retire before the new bond would take effect.
“We would deliberately hold the bond amount at a number that will result in a tax decrease for our taxpayers,” said Chief Oliver. “It’s a win-win.”
The first draft of the Capital Facilities Plan identified $63 million in facility improvements. However, the District identified cost-savings on some projects to lower that amount to $58.3 million. If approved by voters, the projected rate per $1,000 of assessed property value would be 32 cents. This is $0.02 less than the amount property owners will have been paying for the M&O Levy and prior bond. The District expects to have final numbers by the end of November.
The Board of Fire Commissioners will consider adoption of the Capital Facilities Plan at its regularly scheduled meeting at 4:00 p.m. on November 12 at the CKFR Administrative Building (5300 NW Newberry Hill Road, Silverdale, WA). Community members can find a copy of the Plan, including a full list of station projects, on the CKFR website at www.ckfr.org.
“There will be a public outreach process before a decision is made to go to ballot,” said Chief Oliver. “We appreciate our community being open to learning more about the proposal.”