City, fire district spat continues

October 29th, 2009 by Ken

The City of Lacey has sent a letter to city residents explaining why they broke off negotiations with the Lacey Fire District in renegotiating a new fire service contract.

The letter was in response to a letter sent by the fire district to county residents addressing the status of fire and emergency services in the fire district.

The city said that by forming its own fire department Lacey residents will have a vote on the future of  fire service, something that they don’t have now.

The city said that operating with its own fire department will allow them to respond quicker in an emergency and pointed out that currently, under Fire District 3, fire call response meets national standards only  38 percent of the time.

The city also said that  operating its own department will bring improved fiscal and management oversight.  The city said that poorly-analyzed management decisions by the fire district has led to fiscal instability, reductions in service and unsustainable cost increases.

The letter to city residents said that a city run fire department will be innovative and will provide greater accountability.

Finally, the letter said that currently city residents are subsidizing fire and medical services to county residents and that Lacey residents pay more for fire services than do residents in the fire district.

Other fire related issues

Lacey Fire District 3 has asked the Medic One Council to increase the number of fire fighter/paramedics. 

When Medic 6 was placed under Fire District 3’s control, it called for four and a half staff members.  Only four were approved.  The district has asked for another full time person, who will also provide fire services in addition to medic services.

Who broke it off

According to Fire District 3 Commissioners, the decision of the City of Lacey to break off negotiations caught them flat-footed.  “We were making good progress,” Commissioner Frank Kirkbride said.  “They had made a proposal to us and we responded with a proposal.”

Kirkbride said he was completely surprised when the city negotiators stood up and walked out.

Union efforts

Efforts by the local Firefighters Union, to turn out three incumbent Lacey Councilmembers appears to have a mixed affect.   Most of those whom I’ve talked to say the fire fighters are trying to buy an election and are just trying to save their own jobs.

The common wisdom says that Graeme Sackrison will be returned and probably John Darby as well.  Ann Burgman is in trouble and that may mean that Cynthia Pratt will be elected.

Supporters of the city hope that’s not the case, and if in fact, it does happen, fire fighters shouldn’t see the defeat of Burgman as a win for their side.  Other factors will have played a role outside of the fire services question.


Posted in Local Politics, The Real News

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