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In his letter to the editor in the June 22 Mirror (Fire district or department?), Edward C. Stewart stated that the commissioners have decided to identify the department officially as Fire District 39 of King County. That is simply not the case.
He is correct in stating that the department legally changed its name several years ago. Prior to the name change in 1998, our legal name was King County Fire Protection District 39, but we were generally known as the Federal Way Fire Department. This often resulted in confusion. It was common for newspapers to refer to us as King County Fire District 39/Federal Way Fire Department. The purpose for that name-change was in part to reduce the confusion and not have two names.
The truth is that we are legally a junior taxing district, and not part of either King County government or the city of Federal Way. We have an elected board of fire commissioners who set the budget and policy direction for us. This is no different thanFederal Way Public Schools or Lakehaven Utility District. As a taxing district, we are bound by all of the state laws that affect taxing, including the lid that we are asking taxpayers to consider lifting for a one-year period.
When we changed our name, we felt that the name Federal Way Fire Department reflected who we are and what we do. We are a full-service fire department providing many benefits to the community. Not only do we respond to fires, but nearly 80 percent of our alarms are for medical emergencies. We also work very hard at preventing fires and injuries, as we provide many programs aimed at reducing the risk to the public. We operate the Federal Way Fire Department with dedication; our name is a reflection of our pride in our personnel, their services and the quality fire department services that we provide.
So whats in a name? Your fire department has generally been known as the Federal Way Fire Department since 1967, when two small fire districts merged. It was formally adopted in 1998 as our legal name. We serve all people within our boundaries, whether they live in the area of King County that we protect, or inside the city.
Jerry E. Thorson
Federal Way Fire Department