Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue recently released its draft capital facilities plan for public review. Outlined in the plan, is the agency’s need for facility improvements for both community safety and firefighter health.
“Many stations are nearly 60 years old, and none are up to seismic standards,” CKF&R officials stated in a press release. “Engineers have identified several that would be in danger of collapsing even with a small earthquake. This could jeopardize the District’s ability to respond to emergency calls during such an event.”
Several fire stations are located significant distances away from populated areas, which serves to increase response times. The stations lack effective exhaust removal systems and decontamination areas that reduce firefighter exposure to carcinogens and infectious diseases. In a touch of irony, many stations are also not equipped with modern fire and life safety systems such as security cameras, commercial fire alarms, and sprinklers.
“Fire station locations and requirements are different than when we formed in 1942,” CKF&R Fire Chief John Oliver said. “Since that time, we also have learned that cancer is a leading cause of death in firefighters. This plan is an important step in planning for the well-being of our community and its firefighters.”
The capital facilities plan calls for consolidating, replacing or remodeling nine stations, but the cost of capital projects would exceed CKF&R’s operating levies. As a result, the district will consider asking voters to approve a bond sometime in 2020.
If approved by voters, property owners are projected to see a net decrease in the amount of taxes compared to what they are currently paying the district, according to the release. This is due to a Maintenance and Operations Levy that is expiring, and a bond for apparatus and equipment will retire before the new bond would take effect.
“We would deliberately hold the bond amount at a number that will result in a tax decrease for our taxpayers,” Oliver said. “It’s a win-win.”
The first draft of the capital facilities plan identified $63 million in facility improvements, however, the district identified cost-savings on some projects to lower that amount to $58.3 million. If approved by voters, the projected rate per $1,000 of assessed property value would be 32 cents, two cents less than the amount property owners will have been paying for the maintenance and operations levy and prior bond, the release states. The district expects to have final figures by the end of November.
The Board of Fire Commissioners will consider adoption of the capital facilities plan at its regularly scheduled meeting Nov. 12 at 4 p.m. in the CKF&R Administrative Building at 5300 NW Newberry Hill Road in Silverdale. Community members can find a copy of the draft plan, including a full list of station projects on the CKF&R website at ckfr.org.
“There will be a public outreach process before a decision is made to go to ballot,” Oliver said. “We appreciate our community being open to learning more about the proposal.”