Fire district merger could lower response times

Fire district merger could lower response times »Play Video
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. -- There's a plan to merge a portion of some Franklin County fire districts.

It could mean a faster response for some homeowners and ambulance access for others.

Fern Harris has never had an issue with the service offered by Franklin County Fire District Two.

But she would rest a little easier if Fire District *Three responded to her 911 calls.

"We would love to be in district three and we've been trying to get there for almost since we moved here. But it hasn't happened," she says.

Thirty years later -- that prospect is on the horizon. It covers the far eastern portion of Franklin County.

District Three covers the area north of Pasco to Sagemoor Road.
Because it's less rural -- it has trucks to cover house fires -- while District Two does not.

As more people are moving into that south end of District Two -- the risk to response times is growing.
The crew is all-volunteer -- and it could take extra minutes to get to your emergency.

By merging that portion of district two into district three -- neighbors could see better coverage.

If that portion of district two was annexed into district three, residents in that area would have better access to to a latter trucks, which in this case, would mean the difference between a structure being saved or being lost.

Les Litzenberger heads up District Three.
He has no concerns his crews could handle the added load.

"Response time is going to be shortened to some extent, because rather than dispatch sending district two and district two realizing it's not a fire that they can handle, they call us mutual aid. We'll get the first call so we can get out the door a few minutes faster," the Chief says.

The changes come with a hike to property taxes. But that peace of mind is worth it to people like Fern.

The hike to property tax will cost about 150 dollars for every 100 thousand dollars your home is worth.

Franklin County Commissioners will start by reviewing the petition tomorrow.

The merge of the districts could come as soon as the end of the year.