The Northshore Board of Fire Commissioners has given the thumbs up on a vote cast Wednesday, Aug. 6, to pursue consolidation with Woodinville Fire & Rescue.
The action clears the way for a potential ballot measure in the Spring of 2021.
“It has been increasingly difficult for smaller agencies to operate at the high level of efficiency desired,” said Northshore Board Chair David Maehren. “This consolidation effort is part of a larger regional trend of fire department annexations and mergers. We look forward to building on what is already an excellent relationship with Woodinville Fire & Rescue.”
The goal of the merger is to improve service and reduce the cost of operations.
“When agencies combine resources and share expenditures, there can be advantages for both organizations and their taxpayers,” said Woodinville F&R Public Information Officer Catherine Breault. “This advisory vote clears the way to explore the potential benefits of consolation.”
Those benefits would mean only one fire chief and one deputy chief of response operations would be needed. Currently, there is one of each functioning in Woodinville and Northshore. The merger will also reduce transportation costs for the Northshore Fire Department.
“Woodinville Fire & Rescue offers basic life support transport to our patients to the local area hospitals at no additional cost,” Breault said. “Patient transport in the Northshore jurisdiction is conducted by private ambulance services. This expansion could result in transport for Northshore patients at no additional cost.”
A third potential benefit, Breault said, would see the combing of healthy reserve funding and relatively new fleets.
"As a combined agency, the shared resources may offer reductions in operational costs that could extend to the taxpayers," she said.
Open public meetings and facilitated discussions regarding the merger are scheduled. The initial gathering took place Tuesday evening at Woodinville F&R Station No. 31. The second meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m., on Aug. 19, at the Northshore Fire Department. All meetings will be held on Zoom to accommodate the current pandemic.
“Both organizations have a shared focus on community feedback and transparency,” said Woodinville F&R Fire Chief Greg Ahearn. “As partners, we can utilize existing personnel and resources to find better ways to serve our residents.”