Eastside Fire & Rescue closed station, cut staff in Issaquah

January 8, 2013

Eastside Fire & Rescue closed a fire station in Issaquah on Dec. 19 and reduced staff at another Issaquah fire station Dec. 14 as the agency’s overtime budget ran low.

The agency closed a Sammamish fire station Dec. 16 for the same reason.

Officials closed Station 72, 1575 N.W. Maple St., from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 19 and reduced the staff at Station 71, 190 E. Sunset Way, to two firefighters from the typical three, for six hours Dec. 14. The agency also shut down Station 81, 2030 212th Ave. S.E., from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 16.

The closures and staffing reductions have become something of a holiday tradition at EFR. In recent years, the agency’s overtime budget has become a lightning rod and a target for partners seeking to tighten the belt on personnel costs.

“We’re trying to make the administration and union aware that this is not a fund they can keep coming to,” EFR board member and Sammamish Mayor Tom Odell said.

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Issaquah fire station, hospital earn honors for energy efficiency

January 1, 2013

Issaquah is a hub for energy efficiency, after a fire station and a hospital in the city earned top honors in the same national competition for engineering and technology.

Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 and Swedish/Issaquah garnered first-place ASHRAE Technology Awards — a top recognition for innovative building design.

EFR Station 72 opened in 2011 as the most energy-efficient fire station on the planet. Swedish/Issaquah opened in July 2011, after planners spent years developing a “practical ‘green’” facility to dramatically reduce energy consumption.

ASHRAE — or the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers — plans to bestow the awards on honorees in January at a conference in Dallas. The organization announced the recipients Nov. 9.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue closed station, cut staff in Issaquah

December 31, 2012

NEW — 2 p.m. Dec. 31, 2012

Eastside Fire & Rescue closed a fire station in Issaquah on Dec. 19 and reduced staff at another Issaquah fire station Dec. 14 as the agency’s overtime budget ran low.

The agency also closed a Sammamish fire station Dec. 16 for the same reason.

Officials closed Station 72, 1575 N.W. Maple St., from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 19 and reduced the staff at Station 71, 190 E. Sunset Way, to two firefighters from the typical three for six hours Dec. 14. The agency also shut down Station 81, 2030 212th Ave. S.E., from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Dec. 16.

The closures and staffing reductions have become something of a holiday tradition at EFR. In recent years, the agency’s overtime budget has become a lightning rod and a target for partners seeking to tighten the belt on personnel costs.

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Issaquah contributes more for fire protection

November 27, 2012

Eastside Fire & Rescue board members approved the agency’s $22.2 million 2013 budget Nov. 8.

The budget represents a 3.1 percent increase from 2012, something Deputy Chief Wes Collins attributes to already-agreed-to wage and benefit increases for firefighters, as well as to modest increases in several programs that the agency cut during the recent economic downturn, such as volunteer training and protective clothing for firefighters.

“After the downturn, we cut back on a lot of supplies like clothing and bunker gear,” Collins said. “Those things have a shelf life and we’re coming up on a bubble where they’re going to have to be replaced.”

EFR determines each partner’s bill for fire services based on the assessed value of areas covered by specific stations.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue’s lack of overtime funds stretches agency

November 27, 2012

Eastside Fire & Rescue could temporarily understaff or even close stations to deal with a shortfall in its overtime budget in the coming months.

The issue has led to an unfair labor practice charge from EFR firefighter’s union, International Association of Firefighters Local 2878.

Union members worry that temporarily shrinking units from the standard minimum of three full-time firefighters to two could lead to a nightmare scenario – firefighters unable to enter a burning building with people trapped inside, for example.

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Issaquah fire station, hospital earn honors for energy efficiency

November 16, 2012

NEW — 3:15 p.m. Nov. 16, 2012

Issaquah is a hub for energy efficiency, after a fire station and a hospital in the city earned top honors in the same national competition for engineering and technology.

Eastside Fire & Rescue Station 72 and Swedish/Issaquah garnered first-place ASHRAE Technology Awards — a top recognition for innovative building design.

EFR Station 72 opened last year as the most energy-efficient fire station on the planet. Swedish/Issaquah opened in July 2011, after planners spent years developing a “practical ‘green'” facility to dramatically reduce energy consumption.

ASHRAE — or the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers — plans to bestow the awards on honorees in January at a conference in Dallas.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue, dispatcher improve relationship

September 4, 2012

Despite grumbling in the past year that Eastside Fire & Rescue may look at other options for its fire dispatching service, Chief Lee Soptich said the agency will likely stay with Bellevue-based NORCOM.

Lee Soptich

Earlier this year Soptich had talked with other agencies — namely Kent-based ValleyCom and the Seattle Fire Department — about dispatching for EFR after frustrations with NORCOM’s delayed software upgrade. The new system, a joint police and fire dispatching and record keeping program dubbed New World, launched in September 2011 but had to be taken offline after just 16 days due to multiple failures.

Because of the crash, EFR crews operated for several months without the “automatic vehicle locator” function in their dispatching system, which tracks individual units and ensures that a fire crew out and about in the community would be automatically alerted to a nearby call. Soptich said there hadn’t been any deadly consequences and NORCOM has since been able to regain the locator function in its previous software system. But after repeated delays and promises, Soptich said EFR is looking for tangible results in the new system in the coming months.

“We’re intent on watching this closely,” Soptich said. “We can’t afford to continue to see problems with our (dispatch) system. (New World) really needs to wow us.”

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Sammamish wants Issaquah to contribute more for plateau fire stations

August 21, 2012

Issaquah could pay a larger share to keep Eastside Fire & Rescue stable, after officials in neighboring Sammamish asked for other partners to contribute more to correct perceived inequity in funding Sammamish Plateau fire stations.

Mark Mullet

The stations in question receive large portions of funding from Sammamish, but most incidents handled by crews at the stations occur in Issaquah.

Sammamish City Manager Ben Yazici met with representatives from Issaquah and Fire District 10 in recent weeks to discuss potential solutions to the funding issue.

(Fire District 10 is the EFR partner serving residents in Klahanie, May Valley, Mirrormont, Preston and Tiger Mountain in the Issaquah area, plus Carnation in rural King County.)

The discussion is centered on funding for Station 83, at 3425 Issaquah-Pine Lake Road S.E., and Station 81, at 2030 212th Ave. S.E.

Issaquah-headquartered EFR determines the bill for partners based on the assessed value of property in each city or district.

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Voters could decide dollars for Eastside Fire & Rescue, emergency services

August 21, 2012

The source of dollars underpinning emergency response agencies throughout King County — including Eastside Fire & Rescue — is poised to go before voters next year.

In late July, leaders from the county, cities and emergency response agencies recommended a six-year renewal for the countywide Medic One/EMS levy. The existing levy is due to expire Dec. 31, 2013, and the task force urged leaders to put the property tax measure on the ballot again.

The annual property tax levy provided almost $1.4 million for the 2012 EFR budget. The amount each agency receives is derived through a formula based on assessed values and call volumes in the agency’s service area.

“It’s very important” as a funding source, EFR Deputy Chief Bud Backer said Aug. 2.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue response times improve

June 26, 2012

Eastside Fire & Rescue firefighters aren’t always getting out the front door as quickly as they would like, though it hasn’t affected their ability to be on the scene of a fire or medical emergency promptly.

At its June 14 meeting, the agency’s board of directors got a look at an annual report on how often EFR units meet their self-enforced standards for response time. The agency strives to have firefighters at the scene of a fire in an urban area within 10 minutes and a medical technician attending to nonlife-threatening medical issues within nine minutes.

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