Thank you, John Simonds, for your letters to The Beachcomber and to the Vashon Fire & Rescue (VIFR) commissioners (“Billing for ambulance transport is unfair,” Nov. 15).
Your issue with billing for ambulance transport has been discussed at length in multiple commission meetings. The decision was not made lightly, especially in view of the then-upcoming levy. A limited response in The Beachcomber unfortunately doesn’t do justice to the amount of thought, research and discussion going into (all) decisions made by the current VIFR board.
The issues you raise have been open for community input at every meeting (fourth Wednesday of every month, 6:30 p.m. at VIFR). Sadly, the majority of meetings are held to a room of empty chairs. We’re not sure if this lack of attendance or input represents a vote of confidence in us as a governing board, or if the majority of islanders simply see the fire department/9-1-1 as a “given.” We wish more people would attend.
While the levy put VIFR on more solid financial footing, it barely covers the deficit caused by 20 years of failing to raise taxes and keeping pace with increasing costs and demands. To cope, few infrastructure repairs were made, which are now past due, and we are working slowly to replace our aging fleet of vehicles and rebuilding reserves. Imposing a transport fee, which is done by many fire districts in Washington state, is one way VIFR is trying to keep pace with expenses. No one is, or will ever be, denied service from VIFR or taken to collections if they cannot pay their bill. Most insurance policies cover emergency transport fees; check with your carrier.
Along with chiefs Krimmert and Larsen, the board of commissioners works hard to ensure that VIFR is run with full fiscal responsibility, ensuring that we can and will always meet our mission statement of protecting our island, people, properties and wild lands. We encourage everyone to attend our meetings. It truly “takes an island,” and we are grateful for the ongoing support shown to VIFR by our community.
— Brigitte Schran-Brown, Chair,VIFR board of commissioners