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Wenatchee City Council Ok's Regional Fire Authority Discussions

June 11, 2010

Forming a Regional Fire Authority to replace the three departments currently serving the Greater Wenatchee area is an idea Wenatchee City Council wants to pursue. Last night the council approved proceeding with formal discussions leading the possible merging of fire protection services with Chelan County Fire District 1 and Douglas County Fire District 2. A letter will be sent to both rural fire districts expressing the city's interest in pursuing the possble merger. Two council members have volunteered to represent the City in future planning discussions. A third will be added later. Commissioners with the two rural districts would then respond. Consolidating the three agencies into one regional fire authority is an idea that Wenatchee Mayor Dennis Johnson finds appealing since the three entities already have in place mutual aid agreements for fires in their shared service areas . Council members Tony Veeder and Jim Bailey will represent the city in future regional fire authority discussions with a third representative to be named later.

Comments

Regional Fire Authority - Can't Wait

I think the formation of a regional fire authority (I figure the most obvious name is "Wenatchee Valley Fire and Rescue") is, as Glenn says, long over due. These fire departments already work together on nearly every call, the two county districts are already sharing command coverage, and they all already train together. This simply formalizes the already existing relationship. Above any cost savings of personnel, there would be buying power. The regional department would be able to ensure we have the equipment and training we need.

I think this is also an opportunity to look at fire station placement as a whole region, and not just each district. Wenatchee's down town station is woefully small, and would probably be served best by making it a rescue station with light duty rescue vehicles being able to respond quickly to the downtown core.

This idea is great, I hope it goes through. As a resident, I WANT it to go through. And, like Glenn suggests, maybe this will be a catalyst for the Upper Valley districts to do the same, as well as Manson, Cashmere, and perhaps Entiat.

Regional Fire Authority

Having served the North Central Washington area as a Deputy State Fire Marshal, and then later as the Assistant Fire Chief of Mount Vernon, I can whole heartedly say this is LONG overdue for the Wenatchee Valley. Regional Fire Authorities can reduce "triplication" of purchases and certain administrative staffing components, but it also provides economy of scale. Thus the new agency has more purchasing power, standardization, and less bureacratic replication. Think about it - Instead of 3 Fire Chiefs with an average salary of 80 to 100K, you would then only need one for the new Fire Authority. Similarily, you may only need 1 Assistant Fire Chief, 1 Fire Marshal, 1 Training Officer, 1 Safety Officer - instead of having triple the positions as it exists today.

Are there drawbacks? Absolutely. There's a loss of "identity"; there may be "power struggles" between the old boundary lines (ie. East Wenatchee -vs- Wenatchee), and there may not be a "HUGE" monetary savings, nonetheless, the benefits will far surpass the current conditions.

Congratulations and good luck to the leaders of the community for being so forward thinking!!! Maybe upper valley fire districts will follow in suit ???

Glenn Brautaset

Regional Fire Authority

What do you think about the proposed merger?

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