South Whidbey Fire/EMS has launched into a new strategic planning process in order to update the most recent plan which was developed over 10 years ago.

After a competitive bidding process, the professional firm of Fitch and Associates was retained in April 2018 to oversee development of the new plan.

During the process, the commissioners, staff and members will be addressing the core services the department currently provides to the community. Examples of questions to be answered are “Do our core services align with community expectations?” and “How does the department deliver and sustain these services most effectively and efficiently?”

“Strategic planning takes time and resources, and is never an easy process,” said Chief H.L. “Rusty” Palmer. “However, it is critical to the department’s future, as we continue to evolve and adapt to meet the needs of our community.”

The new strategic plan will serve as a tool for reporting back performance against community values and desired outcomes, with data to support assumptions about service needs. It will provide a method of prioritizing objectives, and allocating resources to achieve goals within specific time periods over three, five and seven year horizons.

The department successfully completed everything in its 2007 strategic plan, except for one. That was construction of the new Bayview station. That project is now on the fast track. Funding was in place in May 2017, and Island County issued the building permit in April 2018. Groundbreaking is anticipated in the near future, with completion expected to take 12 months, once construction begins.