Public invited to learn more about Camano Island Fire and Rescue’s Strategic Plan – December 29, 2016

Camano Island Fire and Rescue recently completed a Strategic Plan that covers how the agency will meet the increasing demand for emergency services. Two meetings are scheduled to share information and answer questions about what is being proposed:

• Saturday, Jan. 7, 2017, at 10:00 a.m. – Camano Center – 606 Arrowhead Road
• Monday, Jan. 9, 2017, at 7:00 p.m. – Administration Office – 811 N. Sunrise Boulevard

This is a 10-year plan that the fire district will implement over time with support from our community. Short-term, the Strategic Plan recommends addressing two issues: skyrocketing call volumes and replacing aging apparatus.

Call volumes have increased 33% in the last four years. More calls mean added costs for personnel, apparatus, maintenance, fuel, equipment, and other supplies. In contrast, the fire district is limited to a 1% revenue increase per year by state law.

“The demand for service is outpacing the revenue we have to provide it,” said Fire Chief Michael Schick. “We want to share information with our community about what is needed to save lives and property.”

The Strategic Plan calls for adding two firefighters during peak call hours to reduce response times. This also will improve Camano Island Fire and Rescue’s ability to respond to multiple emergencies that come in at the same time. Currently, the agency relies on help from neighboring fire districts, which can take longer.

Replacing aging apparatus (such as fire engines, ambulances and water tenders) is also a focus of the Strategic Plan. Despite regular maintenance, some apparatus break down and can delay response times. The goal of the fire district is to replace apparatus on a regular basis to improve reliability.

“One of our frontline engines is out for at least a month for multiple repairs,” said Chief Schick. “Also, a reserve ambulance is out of service, and one of the new ambulances we started using this year just had it’s 18,000-mile checkup. We need to be ready to replace apparatus as it approaches the end of its usable life.”

The Board of Fire Commissioners will consider asking the community to fund two firefighters and an apparatus replacement program through a fire levy lid lift sometime in 2017. The fire levy, which provides a majority of funding for emergency services, has not been increased since 2004.

A copy of the Strategic Plan for Camano Island Fire and Rescue can be found by clicking on “Budget” under the “Resources” tab at www.camanofire.com. Fire district residents with questions or comments are encouraged to contact Chief Schick at [email protected] or (360) 387-1512.

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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 an average of 1,900 calls per year.