frequently asked questions
I-747 is a 2001 initiative that stringently limited increases in property tax levies by all of Washington’s jurisdictions (to 101% of the previous year, plus new construction). Thus, as our assessed values in our jurisdiction goes up, our levy rate must go down to keep at the 101%. In 2021 our levy rate was $1.00 but has dropped to .93 cents in 2022 and will likely fall another 8-10 cents next year. With inflation rates close to 8% and rising costs to maintain the needs of the district, Fire District 7 is facing limited resources to combat our increasing demand.
When a 911 call comes in, our dispatchers often do not get precise or complete information. As such, our dispatch is based on a worst-case scenario. To ensure the highest level of care, we send a fire engine or aid unit (staffed with 2-4 personnel) and Upper Kittitas County Medic One sends an ambulance (staffed with two personnel).
No medical call is “routine.” Most require assessing the patient, obtaining their vital signs, providing oxygen therapy, and moving them, at a minimum. Drugs may also need to be administered intravenously, monitor cardiac conditions, protect the patient’s spine, restrain them, etc.
Unfortunately, we have no way of knowing what we will encounter on a call until we arrive. We work in a “what if” and “all-risk” business. Responding to the unknown is public safety.
Again, we need to dispatch for a worst-case scenario — and we also need to get our firefighters to the scene as soon as possible. Our response typically includes an engine or an aid unit. If the first unit on the scene is not an advanced life support unit (with paramedics), one should arrive shortly. That’s why you may see upwards of three emergency vehicles on the scene for what appears to be a “simple” incident.
Most likely, the call has been canceled. This might happen if the first unit arrives on the scene, surveys the situation, and informs the dispatcher that things are under control. The other units will then be canceled so they are ready to take another call.
We are always ready to respond! Our firefighters are never far away from the engine or each other. They spend 48 hours together, per shift, which includes meals. They get no formal “breaks.” Even though they may be buying groceries, these, firefighters are still available for 911 calls. Our firefighters enjoy saying hello to the public and supporting local businesses when they can. If you see our crews out and about, give them a wave!
Preparation. When a firefighter arrives at the station for a shift, their first priority is to check the apparatus and personal protective equipment and get ready for the next call. Although we do not fix major mechanical problems with the fire engines, we often do minor repairs.
Housework. The evening is when we also address “housework.” District 7 Firefighters live at the station for 48 hours; it is their second home. We have to sweep, mop, throw out the trash, dust, wash linens and windows, and clean the fire apparatus.
Public outreach. We often coordinate with our PEO to help run station tours for the public or speak at special events. These talks cover everything from exit drills in the home, wildfire safety, and using a fire extinguisher.
Physical training. Our firefighters are encouraged to work out each day. We undergo a battery of exams and fitness assessments, agility testing, and blood work to help ensure that we are in peak condition to protect the community.
EMS/Fire Training. District 7 personnel try and conduct EMS and Fire training for a minimum of 2 hours a shift.
Inspections. Firefighters walk through commercial properties to help maintain and develop pre-fire plans. We also yearly inspect and test fire hydrants to ensure that they operate properly during a fire event. Likewise, we test all our fire hoses, ladders, and apparatus pumps each year.
Reporting. We must document each event we respond to, no matter how big or small. Most reports take 15-60 minutes to complete. District 7 Firefighters can spend numerous hours writing reports depending on the calls.
We are always in “ready response” mode, so our day is by no means over after 5pm. In fact, crews may not get much sleep for 48 hours.
After the crew returns to the station, apparatus need to be restocked and reports need to be completed. Crew members may also call home, work out, catch up on maintenance, study for tests (medical, fire, hazardous materials), and prepare for rope rescue and promotional events. In addition, we conduct periodic “night drills” at odd hours to keep ourselves adjusted to all conditions.
A firefighter’s mind, body, and spirit must be able to operate at peak performance — in a moment’s notice. Because this occupation demands a great deal of physical strength and stamina, we encourage our firefighters to spend about an hour each day (on and off duty) exercising.
Power from the running motor is required to run the pump and distribute water. It is also needed to control the climate within parts of the engine so we can properly store and transport medications that may be needed during a medical emergency. We also run the motor to power lights and emergency flashers. In the fire station, engines are always plugged into a “shore line” to keep the batteries charged and the engine warm so they are ready to go.