Letters to the Editor | June 1 edition

A reader writes in about Vashon Island Fire & Rescue’s proposed levy lift.


Vote yes to keep Vashon safe

Vashon firefighters and EMTs work tirelessly to keep us safe, but inadequate staffing plus aging equipment and facilities are putting the public and our courageous first responders at risk.

Almost 125 times so far this year, simultaneous 911 calls left too few firefighters on duty to safely and effectively fight a fire. Worse yet, simultaneous calls limit emergency medical response capacity. Picture yourself or a loved one suffering a heart attack or chainsaw injury, and the agonizing and potentially lengthy wait for help to arrive.

Putting two firefighter/EMTs at the Burton fire station is only possible if the levy passes. That will improve emergency response times across the island, especially for south Vashon and Maury Island. In addition to saving lives and homes, Burton staffing will prevent major increases in homeowner insurance rates after WSRB (Washington’s fire risk-rating board) reviews Vashon fire coverage and risk this summer. For hundreds in south Vashon and Maury, homeowners’ insurance savings will more than cover the additional cost of the levy.

VIFR’s fire engines are the oldest in King County — so old that replacement parts for two frontline fire engines must be custom fabricated. That’s expensive and keeps vital equipment out of service. If your vintage car breaks down, that’s inconvenient. If a fire engine breaks down, it can mean your home burns down. Restoring the levy modernizes the VIFR fleet.

In his May 25th letter, Scott Harvey suggests borrowing money to renovate the firehouse on Bank Road. At current municipal bond rates, that would cost taxpayers an additional $2 million in interest. The responsible course is to build reserves to pay for well-planned improvements. Restoring the levy is a vote for a sustainable future emergency response capability for Vashon.

In 2017, Vashon’s Fire District was on the brink of insolvency. Thinking like Mr. Harvey’s put VIFR in that situation because the district went 27 years with no levy restoration votes and VIFR is still clawing back from those years of failure to invest in the future.

Fortunately, islanders overwhelmingly passed the current levy that saved VIFR. No one likes to pay taxes, but an extra 60 cents/day for a $600,000 Vashon home, or an extra $1/day for the million-dollar median Vashon home, will protect your property and provide a faster response by our only 24-hour emergency medical response. Saving homes and lives sounds like a good deal for me and my neighbors.

Vote yes on Proposition One for a safer Vashon.

Jim Bristow, MD,