BURN BAN IN EFFECT

About Us

Organization Demographics

OUR MISSION

To Provide the Highest Quality Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services to our Community in a Caring and Professional manner.

VALUES STATEMENT

We value our close ties to the community and believe the best way to provide emergency services is based on the philosophy of “Neighbors Helping Neighbors”. As we carry out our mission, we are committed to being volunteer based, innovative, competent, caring and prudent with public funds.

VISION STATEMENT

Our future vision is to develop consolidated emergency services with our neighboring jurisdictions and develop emergency management zones around each station. Ideally firefighters will respond to emergencies in zones where they live and/or work. Our goal is to improve firefighter training and operational interoperability while maintaining a large active volunteer base.

An overview of KCFd7

Kittitas County Fire District 7 is the largest fire district in the Upper Kittitas County and our ability to manage our responses and assist other agencies is critical. KCFD7 has been in existence since 1980 under the Fire Protection District, organized under Title 52 of the Revised Code of Washington. KCFD7 jurisdiction is in Northern Kittitas County, covering 126 square miles around the communities of Cle Elum, South Cle Elum, Roslyn, and Ronald. These areas include Teanaway, Liberty, Peoh Point, Nelson, Salmon La Sac, and more. View our district map here

The municipal services provided by KCFD 7 in accordance with the mission and statutes that govern fire protection districts and fire departments are Emergency Medical Services (EMS), Basic Life Support (BLS) response; Fire Prevention/Public Education; Fire Suppression (vehicle, residential and commercial); Wildland Firefighting; Hazardous Materials Response-Operations; and Technical Rescue/Special Operations (high/low angle, ice rescue).

The district provides these services from 8 stations and employs one Fire Chief (through a contract with KVFR), one Deputy Chief, a Day Captain, and 9 Career Firefighters/EMTs. The district’s staff rotation always has 2-4 career firefighters on duty responding to calls from Station 73 off of Golf Course Road 24hrs a day, 365 days a year, with integral volunteer response support.

KCFD7 administration employees include one Finance Admin/ District Secretary, one Administrative Specialist, one Fleet Mechanic, and one Facility Maintenance Technician.

VOLUNTEERS AND THEIR IMPORTANCE

Volunteer firefighters have been and continue to be a key component of KCFD7. Recruitment and retention challenges severely affect public safety in rural and aging communities, and many nearby towns have volunteer fire departments and similar recruitment and retention needs. Our volunteers primarily come from our district, which has a population of about 5,500. Most of our volunteers are over 50 and have full-time jobs. Some are retired but face physical limitations that restrict their ability to participate in all response activities.

These limitations, both in numbers and capability, are highlighted during our wildfire season which lasts from May through October. We average over 800 calls annually and in 2021 the district had 28% of calls overlap, meaning there was more than one call going on at once. This stretches an already thin workforce and results in inadequate staffing, impacting first responder safety and response effectiveness. Our community comprises retired residents, people who commute out of the area for work, and young families who make it necessary to continue retaining and expanding career firefighters.

NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS

Upper Kittitas County is a close-knit community of fire districts/departments with shared borders throughout the region. Mutual aid is a big part of the district’s daily operation. Often, we are relied upon to support neighboring communities and have also asked for reciprocal help.

KCFD7 is routinely called upon to assist with structure and wildfires outside our region. We assist in these mutual aid operations with apparatus and firefighting strength. KCFD7 has an inter-local agreement with Kittitas County Fire District 2 (Kittitas Valley Fire-Rescue {KVFR}), the largest combination fire department in Kittitas County. It is not uncommon for KCFD7 to send one or two brush truck companies to wildfires in the lower part of the County. We believe these types of fires represent a grave risk to the community and freeway travelers as these fires spread at an incredible speed. Likewise, we ask for assistance when wildfires start within our borders to try and control the fire quickly.

KCFD7 territory is an urban-wildland interface, and our territory covers the forest land of Ponderosa Pines and rural homes. During the summer, even the most minor fire can flare up and devour hundreds of acres almost instantly, partly due to the region’s dryness and the afternoon winds. A diseased and dying forest exacerbates this, ravaged by bug kill. Upper Kittitas County could quickly become the Paradise, California, of Washington State.

KCFD7 works well with its neighbors and assists whenever possible. We also lend mutual aid for structure fires and assist in covering for EMS calls when the county is experiencing high call volumes. Likewise, our neighbors are always willing to help us when we need help.

Finally, wildfire is a massive issue for this region. When a wildfire erupts, we need a large contingent of certified wildland firefighters ready to go as quickly as possible. Wildfires start anywhere, but in Upper Kittitas County, they routinely occur on the side of the freeway through the district. This happens regularly as Kittitas County is the gateway for recreation for the more significant Puget Sound population. During the summer, it is not uncommon for the freeway to be full of weekend vacationers and outdoor enthusiasts. With campfires or freeway incidents, our area is prime for wildfires all summer long. The best way to reduce these threats is by continuing with our career staffing and utilizing well-trained volunteer firefighters ready to immediately respond to wildfire incidents, thus reducing the impact of those fires before they become a large state or federal mobilizations. 

The number of firefighters in our district directly affects our ability to save lives and protect property. Without more firefighters, our community assumes a more significant risk by depending on inadequate emergency services

EMS Support

At the request of Hospital District 2, KCFD7 took on the critical mission of supporting their Advanced Life Support (Paramedic) responses with our career and volunteer personnel. We have trained many of our personnel to Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) level. We are the primary backup transporting agency for Hospital District 2. Firefighters trained to an EMT level on-scene greatly help Hospital District 2 provide the best possible care to their patients as some calls require extensive responder power.

District 7 Fire Levy History

KCFD7 was awarded a SAFER grant in 2017, allowing us to hire 9 full-time firefighters. The grant paid 75% of the cost for the 9-career firefighters in 2018 and 2019. In 2020 the grant paid only 35% of this cost, and any financial assistance went away entirely in 2021.

KCFD7 community of 5,500 residents provides funding for Fire and EMS responses through a small rural tax base. In 2018 KCFD7 attempted a levy lid lift for the first time in district history to allow for the continued funding of the 9 paid SAFER grant firefighters. The levy asked for $1.50 per $1000 of assessed property value, and the levy failed.

KCFD7 residents voted in August of 2020 to bring back the tax rate to $1.00 per $1000 of assessed property value, the initial rate first established when the district was formed in 1980. The levy was approved, allowing the district to permanently keep all 9 full-time firefighters, and add a 10th position in 2021 in the form of a Day Captian. Additionally, the levy funds have begun to replace our aging apparatus fleet, improve career firefighter and volunteer firefighter training, volunteer recruitment, and retention, and help the district plan for the future.

Levy rates fall as property values rise to limit the fire district to the same revenue budget per year, a one percent increase allowed by law. This one percent is not keeping up with rising call volumes or inflation, and that’s why KCDF7 voters are asked to “lift the levy lid” and restore funding for emergency services to previously approved levy rates. Learn more about Levy’s

In 2021 KCFD7 received a SAFER Grant to hire a Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Coordinator. This position will provide volunteer recruitment, retention, and community outreach programs. The community outreach programs will provide a learning platform regarding the services of KCFD7 to our residents and surrounding communities.

OUR UNIQUE RESPONSE AREA AND INCIDENTS

I-90 is one of the major U.S. West–East Interstate highways with 31,000 vehicles and commercial trucks (10+ million yearly) through the KCFD7’s response area daily en route to other destinations each year. In addition to the 19 miles of I-90 we cover, KCFD7 covers approximately 20 miles along SR-970, extending to SR-97 up to the top of Blewett Pass. This accounts for many collisions, extrications, and accident responses during the busy summer weekends and snow-covered winter months. 

During the summer, fire response to car and recreation vehicles, commercial trucks, grass, and wildfires are frequent as I-90, state highways, and recreational areas pass through the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest. These external impacts of I-90, state highways, and the recreational regions have immediate proximity to start forest fires and raise our needs for fire protection services to a very high level.

 The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest surrounds KCFD7 on three sides, creating a unique Wildland Urban Interface. Recent state and national responses, such as the Jolly Mountain and Taylor Bridge Fires, have dramatically highlighted the area’s fire hazard, which places our community at high risk.

This makes our need to maintain and increase our career staffing so critical. Our local fire crews are ALWAYS the first responders for an initial attack on forest and wildland fires within our immediate response area. Without them, there would be no emergency response to the freeways, our residents, or the surrounding forest lands. While the forest service and state Department of Natural Resources have wildland fire crews, they must respond from far away or be tied up on another fire which is very common at the peak of fire season.

Suncadia and Tumble Creek

Suncadia is a planned unincorporated community and four-season resort located in Kittitas County Fire District 7. It covers an area of 6,300 acres. The multi-million dollar project features a 4-star rated mountain lodge with convention center facilities, a mountain springs theme spa, a sports center, three indoor and outdoor swimming pools, an outdoor venue amphitheater/lake with winter ice skating, trails, and recreational areas, over 2,000 high-end residential units, a 254 room Lodge, a 40 unit condominium project, a winery, and three golf courses. It is located approximately 80 miles east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains between Roslyn, Cle Elum, and the Mountains to Sound Greenway section of Interstate 90. The resort is host to a constant stream of vacationers as well as major corporations that hold conferences at the resort convention center which has a capacity of 1500 on any given day.

The population served by Kittitas County Fire District 7 can swell to over three times its normal amount on any weekend or weekday. The Fire and EMS calls the district responds to increase dramatically because of the resort given the increase in population as well as the activities provided at the resort. The resort which is entirely in the Urban Wildland Interface presents additional unique challenges to the fire district. Wildfire is a major concern as the resort has mostly been left in its natural forested state. In addition, access to the resort is limited to two entrance/exit points and only one entrance/exit point in the gated community of Tumble Creek.

As of March of 2022, only 1200 of the 4500 planned homes in Suncadia have been built.

Please install and activate TablePress plugin to work this widget.