RFA1009

The first governing board of the Regional Fire Authority Marysville Fire District. From left, Fire District 12 commissioners Richard Ross, Marysville City Council members Michael Stevens, Tom King and Stephen Muller, and, front, Tonya Christoffersen and Marysville City Council member Kamille Norton.

 

Voters approved the formation of a Marysville Regional Fire Authority in April and the final steps for the formation of the new organization were completed Oct. 1.

The Marysville Fire District will keep its name, service area and staff, however it now has a more consistent funding source and a different governing structure.

“There was a great buzz in the air and you could sense the excitement,” said Martin McFalls, Marysville Fire District chief.

“It felt really cool to be a part of it. To sign the paperwork and transfer the titles and ownerships,” he said.

The local fire district had long been looking at different options to secure funding for fire and EMS services.

“It was rewarding to be at the end of such a long journey,” said McFalls.

He said one of the district’s staff members still remembers meeting Dennis Kendall in 2003, the Marysville Mayor at the time, to talk about different structures for the Marysville Fire District.

“At that time most of the talk was about annexation,” said McFalls.

McFalls himself was with the district at the time and was a battalion chief in 2004 who traveled to central Washington at that time.

“The legislature had just passed the law that allowed for Regional Fire Authorities,” he said. “That was where the first one formed at the time."

Talks began a few years ago in Marysville in earnest about a Regional Fire Authority, in large part because call volume increases were stretching the Marysville Fire District thinner and thinner.

Officials put the decision on the April ballot, as required by law, and voters approved the measure.

“This will help us consolidate to become more efficient,” said McFalls. Formerly the organization was funded by the city of Marysville and Fire District 12, which includes parts of Tulalip and areas outside of Marysville’s city limits.

“We truly have been running like two separate organizations in one much of the time, with joint funding and ownership,” said McFalls.

“There was often double the paperwork and double the reporting,” he said.

Simply having more reliable funding will be a boon to the district, said McFalls.

“It’s a huge improvement with just the opportunity to know what our funding will be,” he said.

The governing structure changes for the Marysville Fire District now, which will include a six-member board of four Marysville City Council members and two Fire District 12 commissioners, one of whom is a non-voting member of the board.

After the Regional Fire Authority proposal was passed, McFalls said that the district hired two more staff positions.

“We have maintained staffing since the 2008 downtown, but everything points to more staffing being needed now,” because of growth in the area, he said.

“The availability will mean our response times will go down. I don’t know much yet, but it will improve,” he said.

Without funding coming from two different sources, McFalls said long-term planning is now much more possible and they plan to undertake a strategic planning process soon.

“That will be the first formal published plan that we’ve undertaken,” said McFalls.

They hope to work with the Center for Public Safety Excellence, who help district examine their services.

“They will measure and delve into your performance,” said McFalls, who hopes to come out of the process with a three-to-five year strategic plan.

“That really helps us to gear up our staffing, employment and stations to continue to improve our services,” said McFalls.

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