Improving Transparency – July 16, 2015

Camano Island Fire and Rescue (CIFR) has been taking steps to improve transparency with the community it serves. It has added new board meeting locations, posted its annual budget on line, and is developing a new Strategic Plan for how it will serve the 16,000 residents on Camano Island.

“Improving transparency is the key to building trust,” said Chief Michael Schick, who has been with the District for less than a year. “This is a priority for everyone in this organization and I’m proud to be a part of that.”

The Board of Fire Commissioners is rotating their monthly meetings to different fire stations around the island to make it more convenient for people to attend. Meetings are held the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month at 7:00 p.m. Specific locations are listed on the fire district’s web site at www.camanofire.com by clicking on “Our Team” and then “Board of Fire Commissioners.” There also are copies of meeting agendas and minutes for the public to review.

Pat Metz, who chairs the Board of Fire Commissioners for CIFR, also encourages the public to read the fire district’s 2015 Budget Summary. This document can be found by clicking on “Resources” and then “Budget” on the fire district’s web site.

“Let’s be clear – this is not our money,” said Commissioner Metz. “It belongs to our taxpayers who have entrusted us to use it for saving lives and property.”

CIFR operates under a balanced budget, and has a history of passing its financial and accountability audits by the state. The fire district actively looks for ways to make tax dollars go further by cutting expenses and applying for grants. Fire district officials recently saved taxpayers $400,000 by refinancing its bonds at lower interest rates.

For its next project, CIFR is developing a new Strategic Plan for emergency services that will guide decision-making and better focus its resources. The Board of Fire Commissioners expects to present the plan to the community at the end of the year after seeking input from a Citizens Advisory Group this fall.

“We are changing the way we do business to serve our community better,” said Chief Schick. “We hope our community will take these improvements to heart.”

Camano Island Fire and Rescue provides fire suppression, emergency medical service and technical rescue to 16,000 people over 40 square miles. Forty-nine full-time, part-time and volunteer firefighters responded to 1,828 calls in 2014, 71.6% of which were EMS-related.