Fire districts discuss merging

CLEARVIEW — Voters could be asked to approve a merger of two south Snohomish County fire districts as early as fall 2013.

Fire District 1 and Fire District 7 have been talking off and on for years about some kind of merger or consolidation.

Earlier this month, District 7 commissioners voted to begin drafting a resolution expressing a commitment to merging, Fire Chief Gary Meek said.

“The board wants to send a message to them that we are interested in merging and let’s move forward with it,” he said.

The commissioners met Tuesday and went over the draft, Meek said.

“They had a couple of comments to add to the resolution but overall were satisfied with the progress,” he said.

The District 7 commissioners plan to review another draft of the resolution at the Dec. 13 meeting. Once it’s approved, they’ll likely send it over to District 1.

At that point, the two districts could enter formal merger negotiations, likely taking several months.

Fire District 1 commissioners were encouraged to hear about the resolution, board Vice Chairwoman Millie Judge said. They’ve asked the district’s chief, Ed Widdis, to meet with Meek and start sharing preliminary financial information.

“We look forward to hearing more from Chief Widdis after they meet,” she said.

Fire departments throughout the county have been meeting in recent years to find new ways to work together and save money. In south Snohomish County, talks of forming a regional fire authority are ongoing, but the issue likely won’t get on the ballot anytime soon.

Fire District 1 and Lynnwood are in separate talks about combining services, and Mukilteo also has made inquiries about a contract with Fire District 1.

Fire District 1, based in south Everett, serves about 220,000 people in southwest Snohomish County. Fire District 7, with headquarters in Clearview, serves about 70,000 people in southeast county.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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