Sammamish explores option of starting own fire department

Sammamish’s contract with partner Eastside Fire & Rescue expires at the end of December 2014. The city is required to notify EF&R 12 months in advance if it plans to renew services with the organization.

Could Sammamish soon have a fire department to call its own?

The option was explored Monday when consulting group FCS broke down the requirements in a presentation to the city council.

“The most obvious [alternative] is having our own fire department,” City Manager Ben Yazici said.

Sammamish’s contract with partner Eastside Fire & Rescue expires at the end of December 2014. The city is required to notify EF&R 12 months in advance if it plans to renew services with the organization.

It was just a little more than a year ago FCS recommended Sammamish withdraw from its partnership with EF&R and contract with another organization for services.

On Monday, Peter Moy of FCS, explained what it would take for the city to create its own fire department. Among his major points, Moy said it was important for the city to identify transition costs and staffing configurations.

“If we’re going to do this, we’re going to have to find money (in the) budget for these positions because you’re going to have to make hires in 2014,” he said.

There also would be differences in line-item costs for equipment, replacement reserves, operating supplies and fuel and fleet maintenance.

Moy also discussed the future of Station 83, which is located adjacent to Sunny Hills Elementary — between Pine Lake and Klahanie. He suggested the city could sell or lease the building and move services to a more convenient third location within the city limits. In 2012, Station 83 responded to nearly 47 percent of its 3,262 total calls outside the city of Sammamish.

Moy said there has also been a desire within the city of Issaquah and District 10 to move away from Station 83.

This drew concern from some councilmembers, including John James, who said it would have a direct impact on the Providence Point area, which is heavily served by Station 83.

James also said Sammamish needs to consider the possibility of pursuing Klahanie if the vote by the neighborhood to annex to Issaquah falls short in February.

“To go down the path of possibly closing Fire Station 83 and possibly exiting Eastside Fire & Rescue when [Klahanie] would be better served should they become a part of Sammamish, I think is putting the cart before the horse,” he said.

Sammamish was prompted to seek other fire service options because of a 20 percent cost increase for services over a five-year stretch. An FCS study determined Sammamish’s annual contribution to EF&R grew from $4.9 million in 2007 to $5.9 million in 2012.

Estimates for the operation of a city-owned facility range from $5.9 to $6.4 million and don’t include a potential $400,000 in revenue from the King County Medic One Levy.

Contracting with other fire departments, or signing a new contract with EF&R all still remain options for Sammamish, which hopes to receive a final recommendation from FCS by late September or early October.




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