Message from the Chief: Upcoming Levy Lid Lifts

Our department is facing the challenges of a growing area, and to some extent, the growth of our department over the last ten years due to the mergers with other departments. While many of these needs are not new, the department was not able to address them earlier due to the recession having decreased revenue streams.

The three key areas of need are:

  1. The number of firefighters on the street.
  2. Vehicles for them to respond with, and
  3. The facilities to operate from. All of these issues affect our ability to serve you.

Our staffing shortfalls are becoming more evident as our call volume continues to rise quickly. A 23% increase over the last five years, has strained our ability to respond to your needs in a timely manner. We must address the pre-existing staffing shortage and the need for additional first responders to meet the growing demand for service.

To add firefighters to our engine companies, we have applied for a federal grant to help cover the cost of adding three per shift. This will upgrade three of our five engine companies. The grant will offset a portion of the cost for the first three years of the new positions. Through new construction revenues we hope to add firefighters to the other two engines at a later time.

To add a medic unit to our system to deal with the increasing EMS workload we have placed two propositions on the August 1, 2017 ballot seeking additional revenues. It will take nine (9) additional positions to place a medic unit in service, 24/7/365. Funds from those ballot measures will provide the resources to do that.

Our aging fleet of emergency vehicles will soon need replaced as well. We can spread this out over a few years, but it’s no cheap task. Fire engines will cost around $750,000 each

(six are nearing the age to down fleet to reserve status.) The more immediate need is to replace our Ladder Truck that is currently 18 years old. At 20 years, it won’t be fully recognized by the insurance industry as a reliable unit. The cost of a Ladder Truck is well over $1,000,000.

We also need to work on our fire stations. We have three stations that are leased from the cities of fire district that merged into EPFR. The most critical one at this time is our Headquarters Station in Bonney Lake. The lease expires at the end of 2019, and the city needs the building for their use. We’ve purchased land at the corner of Veterans Memorial Drive and Main in Bonney Lake for a new station, but need to come up with the financing for that facility.

In addition, we have a small and aging fire station near Prairie Ridge that needs to be replaced. If we relocate that site not far to the west, we can service the growing areas where large developments are being built for some time before having to add an entirely new station and crew in the area. That could provide a large cost savings in delaying with additional station and crew were put into service in addition to serving a larger area and population base.

We have several other stations (Milton, Edgewood, West Lake Tapps, and the Foothills) that have significant needs as well, but they’ll have to wait until we take care of the more urgent needs.

These capital needs will need to be financed via a bond measure. We have used some capital funds that we were able to save in the Capital Reserve Fund to replace two of our three brush engines, and re-chassis five medic unit vehicles. At this time, our capital reserve funds can keep up with replacing the smaller, less expensive vehicles.

As always, our goal is to serve you quickly, efficiently and compassionately.

If you have questions or would like me to address your club, homeowners association, or any other group, email me at chief@eastpiercefire.org to schedule a time to meet and discuss your needs and that of your fire department.

Bud Backer

East Pierce Fire Chief

More Information about the Levy Lid Lifts

placeholder for the 2017 lid lift
Watch this video for a brief explanation about the lid lifts. 

2017 Lid Lift Flyer

2017 Lid Lift Presentation

Optimal Staffing Matrix
The table below compares EPFR current staffing to what staffing should be.

     

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