Fire Department asking voters for a break


The Mirror

The Federal Way Fire Department wants to keep funding the same as last year.

This fall, voters will be asked to decide on Proposition 1, which allows the department to collect $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

If the levy fails, the department estimates it would lose about $500,000 and would have to consider laying off staff and halting some services or ordering replacement equipment.

When voters statewide approved Initiative 747 in 2001, it limited the Fire Department and similar government entities to collecting no more than 1 percent above what was received in the previous year without getting a public vote. The Federal Way Fire Commissioners decided 1 percent was not enough to cover costs. The levy here, if approved in the Sept. 14 primary election, would authorize the department to collect more than the 1 percent limit.

In existence since 1949, the district serves around 125,000 people within 34 square miles and receives on average of 32 calls a day. There are six stations and one training facility in the department.

Fire marshal Jerry Thorson and public education officer Debbie Goetz said the department is getting the word out to some residents who speak a language other than English. Information about the levy has been translated into Russian, Spanish and Korean.

Federal Way boasts the highest insurance rating of any fire department in the state and is considering entering into an accreditation process, Thorson said.

Thorson said the department has been an excellent steward of the public’s dollars in the past.

The levy hasn’t failed in recent memory.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565,

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