Lynnwood Fire, Fire District 1 considering merger

LYNNWOOD — New merger talks involving the Lynnwood Fire Department and Snohomish County Fire District 1 are starting Monday.

The city and the fire district are exploring the possibility of forming a regional fire authority, a new government body that would levy its own taxes to provide fire protection and emergency medical services. Snohomish County already has one fire authority, in Stanwood. Marysville and Arlington also have been kicking the idea around and expect to start meeting soon.

Similar talks between cities and fire districts in south county fell apart a few years ago. Since then, Lynnwood and Fire District 1 have signed a contract to share Lynnwood’s fire chief, Scott Cockrum, through at least 2018.

The first public meeting to start planning the new proposed fire authority is set for 1 p.m. Monday at Lynnwood City Hall. A public informational website also has been launched at www.lynn woodfd1rfa.com.

The creation of a fire authority requires a public vote. Officials are aiming to get a measure on the ballot in August 2017, Cockrum said. That would require a plan to be ready by May.

If the fire authority happens, other cities or fire departments could join later, Cockrum said. When everyone was involved in the earlier round of talks, the number of voices “made it too complicated to be able to come to an agreement of any kind,” he said.

Fire District 1 is based in south Everett and serves unincorporated southwest county. Under contracts, the district also provides firefighting and EMS within the cities of Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.

Lynnwood is surrounded on all sides by the district’s service areas. Geography was a factor in deciding to move forward with the talks, Cockrum said.

A regular meeting schedule has not been decided yet.

“We are anticipating two meetings a month,” he said. “We have a pretty compressed timeline to make the plan.”

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

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