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Aid car and firefighters join the fleet at South King Fire
Mirror staff reports:
Along with hiring more firefighters, South King Fire and Rescue re-opened an aid car on July 1.
Aid cars respond to all emergency calls and provide medical response, while King County Medic provides ambulance service.
The majority of the fire district's nearly 16,000 annual calls for service are for medical emergencies. All firefighters are trained in EMS.
The aid car is funded by an excess levy that was approved by voters in August 2012. The levy will raise about $3.5 million in revenue per year for four years.
About $1 million from the levy will fund the full-time aid car. SKFR's original aid car fleet was four units. The staffing equivalent of one-and-a-half aid cars was taken out of service in 2011 due to budget cuts.
The fire district also reports the hiring of 10 new firefighters in January 2013. These new positions were funded through the excess levy along with a federal SAFER grant. The new firefighters have been trained and assigned among seven fire stations in the district to ensure 24-hour staffing of the aid car, according to the district.
"The department strongly anticipates that returning the closed aid car back to full-time service will dramatically assist with improving response times," according to a news release from the fire district.
SKFR covers more than 150,000 homes in the Federal Way and Des Moines area. The fire district collects $1.50 per $1,000 for both residential and commercial property values. SKFR depends on voters to generate revenue above that $1.50 cap, the maximum allowed by law.
The fire district depends on property tax values for revenue. The budget was hit hard by the recession and housing market crash. The district has a $22.8 million operating budget for 2013. Nearly 89 percent of that budget goes toward personnel.