Fire District 3, Fire District 7 will meet to consider a merger

CLEARVIEW — Two Snohomish County fire districts are talking about a merger.

This time, it’s a new pairing: District 3 in Monroe and District 7, with headquarters in Clearview.

The two share a border along the Snohomish River and together would cover 115 square miles.

“We have been working collaboratively together, looking at the finances and the efficiencies,” District 7 Fire Chief Gary Meek said.

Options include signing a contract, merging or forming a regional fire authority. That’s a new government body that would collect taxes and provide emergency services. One also is being explored for Marysville.

Merger talks between fire districts are common across the county as agencies try to share resources and reduce duplication. The negotiations sometimes go on for months and months and then stall out.

District 7 spent years in such talks with District 1, based in unincorporated Everett.

District 1, which serves much of southwest county, now is courting Lynnwood to take over its city fire department. The firefighter unions from District 1 and Lynnwood issued a joint statement in June in support of the proposal.

At the same time, District 7 still is negotiating a new contract with Mill Creek. Its agreement with that city runs out next year.

As for the conversation between District 7 and Monroe, a joint board meeting is set for Aug. 17. Both chiefs and their assistant chiefs will go over “what the combined organization would look like,” Meek said.

It starts at 7 p.m. at Fire Station 71, 8010 180th St. SE.

The districts earlier this month already announced a new kind of partnership. Together with Lake Stevens firefighters, they’re funding a community paramedic program to serve all three agencies. A community paramedic visits frequent 911 callers to try to address problems before an emergency medical response is needed.

The success of that new partnership made them optimistic about working together, Meek said.

Consolidation often is more cost-effective, Monroe Assistant Fire Chief Steve Guptill said.

“Our administrations have been talking quite a bit recently,” he said.

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