Camano Island Fire & Rescue communicates next steps for fire levy lid lift

Voters supported a 25-cent fire levy lid lift in the November election for Camano Island Fire & Rescue. As a result, the agency wants to share information about next steps and how funding will be used in the year ahead.

“We are extremely thankful for our community’s support this holiday season and always,” said Fire Chief Michael Schick. “This fire levy lid lift will help us provide a better level of emergency service, which our community needs.”

The first step the Fire District is taking is to hire additional emergency personnel to respond to increasing call volumes and multiple emergencies that happen at the same time. Prospective candidates must be certified as Firefighter 1 and an Emergency Medical Technician to qualify. They also undergo rigorous written, medical, and psychiatric exams before being interviewed by a panel of qualified emergency service providers. Chief Schick anticipates two, possibly three new firefighters will be on board as soon as January 8.

The Fire District also will be setting money aside to purchase apparatus, such as a new water tender to replace one purchased in 1983. The cost for a new water tender can be upwards of $275,000, and take a year from order to delivery.

Quick response vehicles, which are smaller, less expensive and more efficient than traditional fire engines, also are expected to be ordered within the next year. The lead time for this type of apparatus is typically six to nine months at a cost of approximately $150,000 each. Having modern apparatus is important to community safety, as well as the Fire District’s insurance rating, which is linked to how much home and business owners pay in premiums.

Funding from the lid lift also will be used for maintaining the Fire District’s facilities throughout the island. Station 3 requires better ventilation, including a more efficient heating and cooling system for the building. The concrete floor in Station 5 needs to be leveled because it presents a trip hazard for personnel and the public. And, Station 2 will receive an emergency antennae to replace one that was lost in a wind storm.

“Emergency personnel, apparatus, and facilities are key to providing quality emergency services,” said Chief Schick. “And it takes community funding and support to make that happen – so thank you.”