On Monday night the Woodinville Fire & Rescue Board of Fire Commissioners held their regularly scheduled meeting at Headquarters Fire Station 31. At the meeting, a letter was read from Fire Commissioner Randy Ransom announcing his resignation, for medical reasons. The meeting covered the impact of closing a station on the community and fire personnel. Regional cooperation between Kirkland, Woodinville and Bothell will continue.
Last week, Kirkland annexed portions of unincorporated King County which were previously served by Woodinville Fire & Rescue which had a profound impact on WF&R. In response to press questions about the impact of annexation, the Woodinville Fire & Rescue website has posted the following Q & A:
1. How much was lost to the District in annexation?
The District has lost an amount estimated to be $1.6 million in current cash assets, plus property tax revenue of $.0.4 million. The total impact of the annexation to the District is estimated to be about $2 million. The actual figures are currently being determined based on the District’s valuation as of the end of December 2010.
The District will transfer the estimated amount of $1.6 million to the City of Kirkland as required under state law and an interlocal agreement signed by the City of Kirkland and the District relating to the annexation. At some point in the annexation discussions, the decision was made that the asset transfer would be made solely in cash.
The $0.4 million in property tax revenue to be transferred should be viewed as the annual reduction in the District’s overall revenue as a result of this annexation.
2. Why was it necessary to close Station 34?
Station 34 is located entirely within the area annexed by the City of Kirkland. The City of Kirkland, not the District, is responsible for service within the annexed area. Under the circumstances, if the District kept Station 34 operational and staffed District taxpayers would be paying for services that are the responsibility of the City of Kirkland.
3. How did you whittle down the potential loss of 14 positions to only six (6), none of whom lost their jobs but were transferred to Kirkland?
The District’s initial assessment of the impact was that fourteen (14) positions would be lost due to the annexation. The Board of Fire Commissioners expressed a desire to keep as many positions at the District as financially possible. Unfortunately, with the revenue loss caused by the annexation, only a few positions could be retained. After absorbing as many positions as possible, positions that would cover for scheduled time off and reduce overtime spending, the fourteen (14) positions became nine (9). As required by state law, the District and the City of Kirkland jointly declared the annexation impact as nine (9) positions, all of which were slated for transfer to the City of Kirkland. However, two (2) employees took positions at other agencies and, unfortunately, the District suffered a line-of-duty death in late 2010. This brought the number of positions to be transferred to six (6).
4. What is the District’s policy on staffing shifts at a station? In other words, how many firefighters per station per shift and how many shifts are there?
We currently have four stations (31, 33, 34 and 35); after June 1st, we will have three stations (31, 33 and 35). We have three shifts (A, B and C); each shift is 48 hours on, 96 hours off. After June 1, staffing will be at 18 people assigned with a minimum on-duty of 13. The minimum staffing is six (6) at Station 31, four (4) at Station 33 and three (3) at Station 35. We expect to have fourteen (14) on-duty most days.
We will maintain the ability to have at least four aid cars even after Station 34 is closed. The number of aid cars will not be reduced after the closure of Station 34. Medical aid calls are about 75 percent of our responses. We will have one less engine company.
Please note that after June 1 there will be an extra lieutenant on each shift. Due to the transfer of the six (6) firefighters to the City of Kirkland, three (3) lieutenants were slated for demotion. However, at the request of Local 2950, the lieutenants were not demoted. Instead, Local 2950 and the District entered into an agreement where the extra lieutenants will be retained as “floaters”, and Local 2950 would release any claims to the Emergency Management position that the District was seeking to hire.
Thank you to Katherine Winder for assistance with this story.