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Board of Fire Commissioners to meet on fire levy resolution  - June 14, 2023

Community invited to learn more and provide comment

Burbank, Wash. – The Walla Walla County Fire District 5 Board of Fire Commissioners will meet Monday, June 26, to discuss a resolution to place a fire levy lid lift on the November 7, 2023, general election ballot. The community is encouraged to attend the meeting at 4 p.m. at 460 West Humorist Road in Burbank or virtually (link to the meeting can be found at on the Commissioner Meeting page).

“Call volumes are up 100 percent in the last 10 years, and we’re struggling to keep up with the higher demand for services,” Fire Chief Mike Wickstrom said. “We require more firefighters and adequate facilities to meet the emergency service level needs of our community.”

The fire district responds to an average of 700 calls per year – of which 65 percent are for emergency medical service (EMS). Additionally, overlapping calls – when two or more come in at the same time – happen 10 percent of the time.

If approved by voters, the fire levy lid lift will fund:

  • Up to four additional firefighters to respond to calls and reduce response times
  • Station 51 renovations to add sleeping quarters to accommodate more firefighters to allow for faster response times in the Charbonneau and Wallula areas
  • Renovations at the main station in Burbank to fit and protect modern fire engines and equipment
  • Upgrading diesel exhaust removal systems and decontamination areas to improve firefighter health and safety

The fire district has been able to operate efficiently for 30 years without having to raise its levy rate. This is no longer an option. The fire district is considering asking voters to change the fire levy from $1.14 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $1.38. The $0.24 lid lift would cost an owner of a $350,000 home an additional $84 per year or $7 per month.

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Walla Walla County Fire District 5 provides fire and life safety services to approximately 4,100 people over 120 square miles. The fire district relies on seven full-time, two part-time and 12 volunteer emergency personnel who respond to an average of 700 calls per year, of which 65 percent are for emergency medical service (EMS). The fire district’s firefighters are highly trained to provide wildland and fire suppression, EMS, technical rescue (confined spaces, wilderness, surface water and ice), vehicle accidents and extrication, and life safety programs.