EFR officials to consider its own mission, values

March 9, 2009

By J.B. Wogan

Fire Chief Lee Soptich would like to consider the identity and purpose of regional fire agency Eastside Fire & Rescue.

The coverage area of EFR includes Issaquah, Sammamish, North Bend, Carnation and portions of unincorporated King County. The agency has an eight-person commission with five city representatives and three commissioners from fire districts in the county. 

Soptich asked the commission to allocate about $3,500 to a two-day session where a consultant would help draft a new mission statement and core values for the agency. Soptich called it a strategic plan and suggested it would address the agency’s future for the next three years and beyond.

“Why do we exist? And is that in concert every time we meet?” Soptich asked. 

In the past year, the commission has debated the role of EFR in east King County. Representatives from the cities have voted against annexing more fire departments into the agency. While blockading the addition of new EFR members has kept fire service low in the cities, it keeps residents in Snoqualmie and Fall City from receiving a higher level of service.

Soptich has argued that the residents in those areas would be safer and the overall agency would operate better if the fire departments in Snoqualmie and Fall City were brought into EFR. At present, they are “doughnut holes” in an otherwise contiguous fire coverage area.

The board has voted against the expansions, believing that it would increase costs to current members with no corresponding increase in service.

Ron Pedee, chairman of the commission, said he supported the idea of a session, adding that the commission was hindered by the “tyranny of the urgent,” which prevented it from addressing long-range goals. 

The commission voted 6-2 in favor of hiring a consultant. 

Commissioner Lee Fellinge, a city of Sammamish representative, voted against the move. He said he wanted EFR to have a multitiered plan that would involve broad, long-term goals, but also realistic, short-term objectives during tough economic times. 

“We need to combine the two thoughts,” he said. 

Commissioner Dave Kappler, representing the city of Issaquah, joined Fellinge in dissenting. He, too, said he wants to focus more on immediate financial problems facing EFR partners. 

“I think the budget implications for cities is very serious,” he said.

Fellinge added that he was against any unnecessary spending and cautioned against hiring a consultant to achieve more than was possible in two days.

Kappler and Fellinge are both members of EFR’s Finance and Operations Committee, which has discussed drafting an informal biennial budget to better gauge potential pitfalls for EFR well in advance.

 

On the Web

See EFR’s mission statement, vision statement and guiding   principles at www.eastsidefire- rescue.org/Mission.htm.

 

Reach Reporter J.B. Wogan at 392-6434, ext. 247, or jbwogan@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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