North county fire agencies explore combining efforts

ARLINGTON — The city of Arlington played host to representatives from 14 Snohomish County fire departments who gathered Thursday to learn more about how fire service agencies in north county might combine their efforts.

Don Bivins, a retired fire chief from Clark County, spoke to the group about the advantages and disadvantages of regional fire authorities, mergers, annexations and consolidations of fire districts.

Bivins was invited to speak because fire departments in the region have a growing number of people to serve, but are facing declining revenues, Arlington Mayor Barb Tolbert said.

Bivins agreed.

“The public is saying, ‘We love you firefighters, but there is a limit to how much we are willing to pay for your services.’ That’s what is driving the look at the regionalization of fire service,” he said.

Bivins works for Portland-based Emergency Services Consulting International, a firm that has given its help to numerous fire-fighting organizations nationwide.

Regional fire authorities are relatively new in the state and take a lot of work to organize, Bivins said.

Cost savings are possible, but cooperation is the key to success of a combined effort, he said.

Learn more

More information about the presentation is available from Arlington Fire Chief Bruce Stedman by email at bstedman@arlingtonwa.gov.

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