Despite COVID-19, our emergency responders are doing a great job of protecting our community and themselves when they go on calls. Their professionalism means that we’ve had no exposures, but it’s still difficult to respond to calls and then be isolated in our home lives. We miss the daily interaction with you for non-emergency events, like Open Houses. The pandemic, however, has shown all of us just how important emergency services are to the well-being of our community. It also has highlighted our need for full-􀆟me emergency personnel. We currently rely on part-􀆟me and volunteer firefighter/EMTs to respond to calls. COVID-19 has reduced the availability of our volunteers because of work commitments, or concerns about potentially exposing family members with underlying health conditions.

At our best, we can respond Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. with part-time and volunteer staffing. Evenings and weekends, we primarily rely on volunteers and that number (even with our most recent graduates) is not enough to meet the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standard more than half the time. As a result, we o􀅌en have to call on mutual aid from neighboring agencies, which takes longer to reach you in an emergency.

For this reason, South Whidbey Fire/EMS is asking voters to approve a Fire Levy lid li􀅌 of 30 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value (approximately $10 per month for the owner of a $400,000 home) on the August ballot. Funding would allow us to hire up to eight full-time firefighters and replace emergency apparatus that is becoming unreliable. It would allow us to meet the NFPA standard, and improve our community insurance rating, which could reduce what home and business owners pay in premium costs.

We appreciate your consideration of this request. Please visit our website to learn more, or contact me at 360-321-1533 or chief@swfe.org with questions.

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