Commentary: City officials playing with fire

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Say goodbye to our only dedicated 24-hour paramedic unit in Edmonds. Although our firefighters and paramedics have one of the highest cardiac arrest survival rates in the world at 64 percent, your Mayor and City Council want to change that.

The original partnership began in 2010, with a contract with Fire District 1 that required 12 people to staff the three Edmonds fire stations. The 12 members would be made up of 1 Battalion Chief, 3 Captains, 6 Firefighter/EMTs, and 2 Firefighter/Paramedics. This staffing was based on many years of data and response standards.

In 2016 the city hired an outside consulting firm to find savings and a “return on investment” in the fire department contract. This firm has a national reputation for slashing public safety. Part of their recommendations included having a paramedic unit only for 12 hours a day and eliminating the only fire engine downtown. The city gave up pursuing those options but now is recommending cutting the daily firefighters on duty from 12 down to 10.

With this change, all the personnel would staff both a fire truck and an ambulance in each of the three Edmonds fire stations. In this scenario, if there were three trash fires occurring at the same time, there would not be a paramedic unit available to respond from within the city limits. Alternatively, during a call for advanced life support, the solo paramedic on scene would need to request assistance for another paramedic, putting 2 out of the 3 fire stations out of service and unavailable for any other medical or fire call in the city.

Furthermore, in the last two years, Fire District 1 has failed to meet nationally-recognized standards requiring 15 firefighters to be on-scene of an Edmonds structure fire in a specified time. They cannot currently mobilize the necessary resources to effectively fight a fire and now the city wants to cut down the number of firefighters.

But what is most confusing is that these cuts are being proposed at a time when the city is experiencing record revenue over the past several years and over $129 million in increased assessed value from new home and commercial construction between 2014-2017. At the same time, the city is adding multiple staff positions and significant IT improvements. With these revenues and growth, why would you cut the fire department staff down to pre-2001 levels?
We understand that there is great risk every day in our jobs, but we are willing to take that risk to protect you, our community. Now, we ask you to help us in providing the services not only that are needed, but are essential to saving lives.

Stand with us on Dec. 6th at 6:30 p.m. and tell City Council not to cut your fire department.

You are worth it.

Tim Hoover
IAFF local 1828

 

1 COMMENT

  1. The purpose of having a mayor and council is to keep the citizens safe. The “consulting firm” uses data of when all units are in service and able to respond. It does not spit out data with many variables of out of service units and units responding mutual aid. The purposed cuts will cut costs and lives. Time to step up and do what’s right.

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