West Pierce Fire & Rescue to Place Three Issues on August 6 Ballot
On May 7, 2019, the West Pierce Fire & Rescue Board of Fire Commissioners voted to place three ballot measures on the August 6th ballot. Proposition 1 is a four-year maintenance and operations levy request for $13.9 million dollars annually, replacing the existing levy. This amount will be collected each year, starting in 2020 and going through 2023. This is not a new tax, but a renewal of a maintenance and operations levy the community has supported for over 40 years. Proposition 2 is a lid lift for the Regular levy and Proposition 3 is a lid lift for the EMS levy, returning both to statutorily authorized rates. Collectively, this funding represents approximately 85% of the fire district’s operating budget.
West Pierce Fire & Rescue is the most urbanized fire district in Pierce County and responded to 16,320 calls for service in 2018. Since the merger of the University Place and Lakewood Fire Departments in 2011, call volume has increased nearly 28%. During this same time, staffing levels have been reduced in response to budget constrictions. One of the most critical areas these ballot measures will fund is a four-year hiring plan, which will provide five additional firefighters per shift to effectively manage the increasing call volume.
West Pierce Fire & Rescue holds a Class 3 rating from the Washington State Survey and Rating Bureau and is one of only three fire departments in Pierce County, along with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue and the City of Tacoma Fire Department, to receive such a high rating.
Chief Jim Sharp stated, “I am very proud of our efforts to provide the community with exceptional services, utilizing the most cost-effective methods possible. These three ballot measures are critical in providing the funding needed to continue delivering the high-quality services our community has come to expect from West Pierce Fire & Rescue and make necessary improvements to effectively manage the increasing call volume.”
West Pierce Fire & Rescue is an all-hazards fire department. Six fire stations are staffed 24/7 throughout the communities of University Place and Lakewood, providing fire suppression, paramedic response and transport, technical rescue, marine rescue, hazardous materials response, fire code enforcement, and a wide range of fire and injury prevention education programs.