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Fire Department Proposition 1 passing

Federal Way Fire Department personnel were breathing a huge sigh of relief Tuesday night with Proposition 1 passing by a comfortable margin. Had the proposition failed, the district stood to lose an estimated $500,000 in 2002. The proposition does not raise or create new taxes; it simply authorizes the district to continue to collect up to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. Fire District Spokeswoman Joyce Harmes said the apparent passage of Proposition 1 would allow the district to move forward with its strategic plan, which includes staffing engines with three firefighters. Many rigs only have two firefighters on board now, which can be a problem because four firefighters must be present before they can enter a burning building. With three-man staffing, firefighters can go in when a commanding officer arrives, rather than waiting for a second engine, Fire Chief Al Church said. The proposition is similar to the one Federal Way voters overwhelmingly passed when Initiative 695 was placed on the November 1999 ballot. It did not raise the fire district's levy, but protected the district's ability to continue to utilize the levy. This is a parallel situation. Proposition 1 was drafted in response to Initiative 747, which limits jurisdictions to collecting only 1 percent above the amount collected in 2001 without a public vote. I-747 is on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot. Election results won't be final until Sept. 28, when they will be certified.

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