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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, October 2, 2013| Ferndale Record


Local Firefighters

Fire District 4 seeks voters’ Yes to keep 24-hour emergency response the last few years.    The district saves money working with North Whatcom, but it lacks industry in its tax base, Neal said.    “In recent years, home values have halted and our property tax base is somewhat flat. We have to do more with less,” she said.    This measure has an “emergency medical services” emphasis that reflects the 70 percent of calls that require an ambulance rather than a fire truck, Neal said.    In August 2012, the fire district fell just a few votes short of passing a slightly different measure. It would have raised the tax levy 15 cents per $1,000 property value.

Fire District 4 helped respond to an accident on Hannegan Road this past summer. (Lynden Tribune file photo)

Bellingham-area district shares resources with North Whatcom By Calvin Bratt

   WHATCOM — Fire District 4 northeast of Bellingham wants voters’ help maintaining its current level of emergency response.    That is of broader interest because the district is tied into the much larger North Whatcom Fire & Rescue/Fire District 21 through a contract for sharing all administration and staff. Crews rotate within the blended districts.    Right now, the District 4 fire station on Britton Road is able to have crews respond to 911 calls no matter the time of day or night, but that could go away if enough money isn’t available, said district commissioner Mary Beth Neal.    The request on the Nov. 5 ballot is for a permanent tax increase of 30 cents per

$1,000 of property value. The measure needs 60 percent approval to pass.    Currently, the tax rate is about $1.14 per $1,000, raising $1.36 million in 2013, according to the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office website.    “We’re trying to ask just for what we need, not any more,” Neal said.    The district extends from Bellingham city limits north approximately to Smith Road, east to Mission Road and west to the Guide Meridian.    Neal said the sharing of resources and personnel — which started July 1, 2011 — is what gives Fire District 4 the good 24hour emergency response. But that could go back to just 12-hour coverage without additional money.    The two districts, like many others, have benefited from federal Homeland Security grants to strengthen local forces. Yet a condition of that money is to gradually take over funding at the local level as the grants phase out.    Another factor for county fire districts, Neal said, is the extra cost of doing BLS (basic life support) transport — a shift in the Whatcom Medic One system over

Hawley, 18-year incumbent, faces Dean Berkeley for North Whatcom Fire & Rescue commissioner    WHATCOM — One local fire district has a race for fire commissioner in the Nov. 5 election.    Dean Berkeley of Blaine is running against 18-year incumbent commissioner Roger Hawley in Fire District 21, also known as North Whatcom Fire & Rescue Services.    The district stretches across the north county from halfway between Lynden and Everson west to Birch Bay and Blaine and south nearly to Bellingham along Guide Meridian Road. The city of Lynden has its own fire department, however.    Hawley said he believes the district is running pretty smoothly right now. It has progressed beyond squabbles of the past and is “as good as we can be financially,” he said.

   Commissioners’ recent decision to close the Custer and 19th Street-Lynden stations makes sense when looking at other paid stations nearby and volunteer firefighter issues, Hawley said. Also, there are churches and daycare centers and possibly more highway accidents to respond to along the Guide around Laurel, where the Lynden crew transferred to, he said.    Moving from volunteers to paid career firefighters is a trend that’s happening all over, not just here, Hawley said.    He favors passage of a 30-centsper-$1,000 property tax increase in District 4, which would bring the partner district more in line with North Whatcom’s levy. And a full merger with District 4 may lie down the road if voters approve, he said.    “It’s the future. You can’t have 19 separate districts in a county like ours, all doing the same thing with declining tax dollars. It makes sense to work together,” Hawley said.    He said he has not met Berkeley nor seen him at a commissioners’ meeting.    Berkeley did not return a call for comment.    These are other filings for fire commissioner, all without contest, in the Nov. 5 election: District 1 (Everson, Nugents Corner) — Gary Almy District 4 — Mary Beth Neal District 7 ­ (Ferndale area) — Michael Murphy District 8 (Marietta area) — Position 1, Roger Buswell; Position 2, Cheryl Sanders; Position 3, Robert Neher District 14 — RobRoy Graham Jr. District 16 (South Fork Valley) — Brian Knutzen District 17 (Sandy Point) — Michael Burnett Glacier Fire & Rescue — Steve Siekkinen



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Fire Prevention 2013  

A Salute to Our Local Firefighters

Fire Prevention 2013  

A Salute to Our Local Firefighters