LETTER:Fire levy

Historic towns, spectacular forests, mountains and remarkable waterways of every scale make Jefferson County an amazing place to live, but present remarkable challenges for fire and emergency services.

Urban firefighting, wildland fires, marine emergencies, HAZMAT incidents and even aircraft fires are all things 18,000 of us count on East Jefferson Fire Rescue to be ready for at a moment’s notice, regardless of ice, snow, floods, heat, wind storms and even pandemics.

As one of the most elderly counties in the nation, having first-class emergency medical service is vitally important.

With four dozen paid staff, three dozen volunteers and barely two dozen pieces of equipment, EJFR handles more than 6,000 calls per year, 75 percent of them EMS.

Nearly a third involve multiple, simultaneous 911 calls that stretch staffing and equipment to the limit.

Covering all this requires high training standards and efficient upkeep of equipment and facilities, which EJFR has consistently maintained.

However, professionalism alone and dipping into contingency reserves can’t make up for shortfalls in funds resulting from a levy limit unchanged for over 10 years.

Fire and EMS face a combined shortfall of $2.3 million in the coming budget year; making this up from reserves can’t continue without a noticeable reduction in service.

Levy lifts should always provoke hard questions about the public benefit, but there can be little doubt that our county will see tangible benefit from this every day, in lives as well as property saved.

Vote yes on Prop 1 and Prop 2.

Pat Garrett

Port Townsend