Issues

Goals for Fire District:

  • Seek ways to preserve or expand services, while avoiding levy increases.

Until recently, Station 35 on Willamette Drive was not staffed. Only when the district received a Federal SAFER grant, did the district have the funds to open the station. When the grant money goes away, it is probable that there will not be adequate to maintain staffing.

In 2008 and again in 2011, voters rejected efforts to raise their taxes through a Levy Lid Lift. I don’t believe voters are any more inclined to have their taxes raised now then they were previously. I believe that the district will need to find ways to trim expenses and perhaps pursue fees in circumstances where the emergency response system is being abused.

  • Find alternatives to sending fire crews to non-emergency medical service calls.

Did you know that when a fire unit is dispatched on a non-emergency medical service call, there is usually a private ambulance also dispatched at the same time? This is done so that if there is a need to transport an injured person to the hospital, the private ambulance can provide the transport and the fire unit can go back to the station. This improves response time because the fire units are less likely to be out of position making a transport. The private ambulances will bill the patient for the transport. Sometimes they will be paid for the transport by the patient and other times they have to write it off as a business loss. What about all those times when they are dispatched and there is no transport? Well, they factor that into the cost of doing business. They don’t receive any compensation for their responses when there is no transport.

Since firefighters and private ambulance crews have the same EMT-Basic certifications, I have to ask why the firefighters are called out on non-emergency medical calls (and being reimbursed by Medic One for the responses) in the first place. I would like to see the district pursue an arrangement where they subcontract the non-emergency medical calls to the private ambulances. A nominal payment for the subcontract would be a gain for the private contractor and the balance of the reimbursement from Medic One could be retained by the district. Under this potential arrangement, the district could investigate having the private providers co-located at fire stations for faster response. This kind of creative solution could be a win for everyone with better service at no extra cost.