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.