Monday, November 19, 2012

Today or tonight, you can help keep the fire engine in the neighborhood fire station.

Forecasted 2013 budget constraints will cause about nine  Spokane Fire Department layoffs. In addition, there are many vacant position (from retirements) that will also remain vacant for 2013.  For my neighborhood, this means Station Nine on 18th and Bernard will be losing the staffing for their fire engine by eliminating their 12 positions (three crewmembers, four shifts).

Current plans are to move Rescue One (a two person truck) from Station One (Downtown) to Station Nine, when the 12 positions are removed. This truck carries no water and has no pump. If there is a fire in the neighborhood, fire attack will have to wait until an engine can come that is able to pump water. This engine would likely come from Downtown or from Perry and 32nd. And even if Rescue One had a pump and water, because this will be a two-person crew instead of three, fire suppression safety laws would severely limit the ability of the crew to fight fire or rescue occupants, especially when first in.

Going from three to two persons also affects emergency medical services.

Because Rescue One is the city's one rescue truck, it is dispatched to every structure fire that occurs in the city. When that happens in the future, there will be no firefighters at Station Nine.

The city council is considering implementing a one-percent property tax hike. This has been done over the last few years by our previous mayors. The median cost would be $4.50 per year for each household (or about 38 cents per month per home).

Councilman Snyder has voiced his support for this. I don't know about Mike Allen, our other South Hill council member. His email is and he can be reached at 625-6255. There will be public testimony on this tonight at the city council meeting.

If this passes, with some of the funds (some will go to the police too), they could save three to four positions and keep our neighborhood fire station open with a three-person fire engine, just like it is now. Downtown's two-person Rescue One would remain unstaffed until budget projections (another subject for another day) get better. 

As you know, I am a little biased about this, so my opinion won't count as much as yours. But, I can say that even if I weren't a firefighter, I would still be very supportive of paying 38 cents per month to keep a fully-staffed fire engine at Station Nine in my neighborhood.  How about you? Thank you!

Spokesman-Review article is here.


Anonymous said...

As staffing goes down and the level of protection with it, doesn't your homeowners insurance go up? In a lot of places insurance companies take that into account when setting rates.

EvilElf said...

That's how I understand it. The problem is, today, the majority of our city council is now comprised of auto-pilot ideologues. It's a lot easier for them to follow the dictates of their political religion than to do the courageous work of pragmatic problem solving.

So, the end result might be that you are paying much more to live in your home but that's OK if you pay it to a private insurance company rather than the government.

Last night, Steve Salvatori couldn't stop stating that the city does a "terrible job" with tax payer dollars, and apparently he's set out to prove this.

My hope is that the recent elections in our nation will help our city council members figure out that we citizens are looking for problem solvers not ideological partisan puritans of any stripe.

In a way, if the city council had voted to spend the ridiculous amount of $4.50 per year per household, it might have staved off a loud public outcry and the demands of more and more citizens for a fully-funded, adequately staffed government. May be, in the long run, a good thing. We'll see.

I would wager Mike Allen received a lot of emails and phone calls asking for the 1% tax hike. But when it's ideology vs. public demands and pragmatism, ideology, although very outnumbered, is going to win every day with some people.