East Jefferson, Port Ludlow fire districts consider merger

Community input to be sought before plan offered to voters

PORT TOWNSEND — East Jefferson Fire Rescue and Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue are in the process of putting together a public engagement campaign to roll out this summer that will inform communities about a proposed merger of the two fire districts.

“Through meetings, through marketing and through messaging, all that is being formulated right now,” said Bret Black, the fire chief for both districts.

“We want to make the community aware of what is being considered and merging two districts potentially into one.”

East Jefferson Fire Rescue (EJFR), which is Jefferson County Fire District No. 1, and Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue, Jefferson County Fire District No. 3, have been operating under an interlocal cooperation agreement for operation and fire services since 2006.

EJFR has been providing management services to the Port Ludlow fire district since May 2021, with the agreement extending to Sept. 1, according to the Port Ludlow website at plfr.org.

Black said a merger would formalize the relationship and enhance productivity and readiness.

“We’re approaching this with a strong ingredient of trying to be as efficient as possible with our resources and balance that with exceptional service,” Black said.

Although no decision has been made, it is proposed that Port Ludlow (the merging district) merge into East Jefferson (the merger district).

According to state law, a simple majority of voters in the merging district — Port Ludlow — would need to approve the merger.

Black emphasized the districts are still in the early stages of planning and that they will seek community input.

“A lot needs to be formalized and mapped out with operations, software, record keeping and financials,” Black said.

“We are right at the start of it.”

Black said dates of public meetings would be announced at a later time.

This is not the first time Jefferson County fire districts have consolidated. In 2005, Jefferson County Fire District No. 6 merged with Fire District No. 1, and in 2019 the City of Port Townsend was annexed to Jefferson County Fire District 1.

Today, East Jefferson Fire Rescue is comprised of the incorporated city of Port Townsend and the unincorporated Jefferson County communities of Cape George, Chimacum, Irondale, Kala Point, Marrowstone Island and Port Hadlock.

Board members are Chair David Seabrook, Vice Chair Deborah Stinson, Steve Craig, Deborah Tillman and Geoffrey Masci, according to the website at ejfr.org.

The Port Ludlow district serves the areas known as the Port Ludlow Master Planned Resort (North Bay and South Bay), Mats Mats, Olele Point, Swansonville, Beaver Valley, Paradise Bay, Bywater Way, South Point, Bridgehaven, Thorndyke, Shine, Squamish Harbor and the surrounding areas.

Board members are Chair Robert Pontius, Vice Chair Raelene Rossart, Secretary Gene Carmody, Ed Davis and Glenn Clemens.

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Reporter Paula Hunt can be reached at [email protected]

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