News

FWay Fire Department included in talk of merger

By ERICA JAHN

Staff writer

The Federal Way Fire Department is laying the groundwork for a new era in fire safety that could see the merger of four south King County fire districts.

Fire chiefs in Federal Way, Des Moines, Burien/Normandy Park and North Highline are discussing the feasibility —operative and financial — of combining their agencies. An informational presentation is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 28 at the Criminal Justice Training Center in Burien. The meeting is open to the public.

Federal Way Fire Department spokeswoman Debbie Goetz said the districts are in preliminary planning of how a merger might work and what benefits it might provide.

“Right now, we already combine resources,” she said. The four agencies have trained together, and ValleyCom already dispatches all four.

“We’ve been sharing resources for quite a while,” Goetz said. “We’re looking at the financial feasibility now.”

Chiefs are looking at three potentials, including:

• “Take a serious look and walk away friends,” Goetz said, meaning the chiefs could consider the possibility and ultimately decide now is not the time to merge.

• Consolidation without formal contracts, which would allow the agencies to work together without merging staffs, operations, and finances.

• A formal, contracted merger, in which administrations, operations, finances and resources all are combined to create one fire district.

At this point, chiefs still are exploring which of the options might work best, but Goetz said the topic is ripe for discussion.

“It’s a natural evolution in a way,” she said. “It’s the next step (to determine) how we can be the most efficient.”

Staff writer Erica Jahn; 925-5565, ejahn@fedwaymirror.com

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