Intergovernmental cooperation among Washington's cities, towns, and fire districts takes many forms. There may be joint operating agreements sometimes referred to as functional consolidations or mergers where several agencies form a joint operating agency with a separate governing board through interlocal contracts; or a joint operating agreement where two jurisdictions may jointly provide fire services; or, more simply, an interlocal service contract where one jurisdiction may provide fire services to another. A single city may contract with a fire district, another city, or it may annex to a fire district. This page provides sample contracts and supplemental information to illustrate some of the activities currently taking place among local governments. A few older contracts have been retained as illustrations. MRSC includes a list of fire district mergers, city annexations, districts and cities that are jointly operating, and that are known to be contracting for services on fire districts that are jointly operating a department on the Local Government Fire Protection Service Providers webpage.
NFPA Code 1201 Organizational Structure of the Fire Department Section 3-2.1 addresses intergovernmental relationships. It states that "State statutes, municipal charters, and the charters of townships, fire districts, or counties shall document the legal authority for operation of the fire department. The fire department shall operate within and comply with the existing laws respecting its areas of jurisdiction and responsibilities in all instances." For Washington the principal authority resides in Ch. 39.34 RCW. Other statutes relate to annexation and mergers of fire districts.
- Ch 39.34 RCW - Interlocal Cooperation Act
- Title 52 RCW - Fire Protection Districts - Includes annexation of fire districts, annexation of cities and towns to fire districts, and merger of fire districts
Joint Operating Agreements
Where local governments operate fire services within close proximity to one another, regional fire service studies suggest that service delivery would be more efficient, if they cooperated. It is pointed out in fire studies that neighboring fire chiefs are essentially developing and administering similar programs within a contiguous region. By pooling, managers and administrators could be freed to provide a more specialized spectrum of services (From Emergency Services Consulting Group, now Emergency Services Consulting Group International Wilsonville, OR).
Centralia and Lewis County Fire District 12
Eastside Fire and Rescue
On January 1, 1999, several King County fire agencies created a new joint operating fire and emergency medical services agency called Eastside Fire and Rescue through interlocal agreements. Eastside Fire and Rescue is governed by a board of directors. Member agencies include King County Fire Districts 10 and 38 and the cities of Issaquah and North Bend.
- Interlocal agreement between King County Fire Protection District No. 10, Fire District 38, and the cities of Issaquah, North Bend and Sammamish, 1/01/2015 - 12/31/2021
- Annexation of Carnation to Fire Protection District No. 10
- Agreement for Fire Prevention Protection and Emergency Medical Care North Bend/King County Fire Protection District 10 (1/1994)
- Amendment to Agreement for Fire Prevention, Protection and Emergency Medical Care - City of North Bend/King County Fire Protection District No. 10 (9/1997)
- North Bend Amendment to Agreement for Joint Operation of Fire and Emergency and Medical Services (11/1998)
- Letter of Agreement between North Bend and FPD No. 10 interpreting Section 8.2 of agreement (12/1998)
- Agreement for Joint Operation of Fire and Emergency Medical Service between Fire District No. 10 and Issaquah (10/1998)
- Agreement between Snoqualmie and Eastside Fire and Rescue to provide services to a portion of Eastside territory served more appropriately by Snoqualmie rather than Eastside from 2-1-99 to 12-31-03, (4/1999)
- Sammamish Amendment to Agreement for Joint Operation of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, 10/2002.
Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue and the City of Longview
While no longer functioning as a joint operating agency, MRSC has provided the documents relating to the joint operating agreement as examples. The merging of fire management services for Longview Fire Department and Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue, began with a 1997 agreement to share services. In 1998 the city and the fire district signed a functional consolidation agreement. This merger was to minimize duplication of employees, develop consistency in the training of personnel, achieve cost stabilization and better provide for the safety and welfare of the public. On July 1, 2001 the Longview Fire Department and Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue officially de-merged and are now two separate entities. Cowlitz 2 Fire and Rescue provides services to the citizens of the Longview and Kelso area.
- Longview /Cowlitz 2 Fire Interlocal Agreement for Functional Consolidation of Management of Fire Services, Longview, 8-98.
- Kelso Ordinance No. 3002 expresses intention to annex to Cowlitz FPD No. 2 (8-95)
- Kelso Agreement with Cowlitz FPD No. 2 and Cowlitz District 2, Resolution 288 approving agreement with Kelso (12-90)
- Longview Fire Department-Cowlitz 2 fire rescue consolidated fire protection feasibility study, prepared by Conrad Kristensen, Bruce Caldwell, Wilsonville, Oregon: Emergency Services Consulting Group, 2000 (MRSC Library Loan)
North Whatcom Fire and Rescue Service
In July 2001 Whatcom County Fire Districts 3, 5 and 13 entered into an agreement which was to eliminate duplication of certain expenses, share valuable resources and combine training. These districts traditionally have assisted each other with mutual aid. The 2001 agreement provided for more extensive cooperation. On January 1, 2004, Fire District 5 withdrew from North Whatcom Fire and Rescue. Blaine annexed to Fire District 13 in February 2004.
- Blaine and Fire District 13 Interlocal Agreement by and between Whatcom County Fire Protection District No. 13 and city of Blaine (4-30-99).
Marysville and Marysville Fire District No. 12 and No. 20
The Marysville Fire District was formed as a joint operating agency in 1991 between the Marysville Fire Department and Snohomish County Fire District 12 forming a new agency called Marysville Fire District with a separate board of directors. In 1998 Fire Snohomish Fire District No. 20 joined Marysville Fire District. In 2002 the district merged with Fire District No. 12. The Marysville Fire District currently provides services to those properties residing within the City of Marysville and Fire District 12 (Sunnyside, Tulalip West, Smokey Point, Lakewood, Lake Goodwin, Seven Lakes).
- Marysville and Snohomish County FPD No. 12 Agreement for Joint Operation of Fire and Emergency Medical Protection Facilities, (10/1991)
- Marysville and Snohomish County FPD No. 12 Agreement for Joint Operation of Fire and Emergency Medical protection Facilities Update (9/1993)
- Marysville and Snohomish County FPD No. 12 and FPD No. 20 Agreement for Consolidation of Fire and Emergency Medical Services (10/1997)
Port Angeles and Clallam County Fire District No. 2
- Port Angles Fire Department Consolidation Corner- Background documents to functional consolidation
- Interlocal agreement for functional consolidation of volunteer fire fighter programs by and between Clallam Fire District No. 2 and Port Angeles, effective 1/2007
Snohomish County Fire District No. 1
- Mountlake Terrace and Snohomish Fire District No. 1 - In January of 2005, the city of Mountlake Terrace entered into an Interlocal Agreement with Snohomish County Fire District No. 1 (SCFD1) which provides for a full consolidation of the two departments and the approval of long-term contracts for Fire District 1 to provide fire and emergency medical services to both Mountlake Terrace and Brier. Under the terms of the Agreement, SCFD1 will staff the Mountlake Terrace's two fire stations
Under the terms of a March 2001 transitional fire services agreement between Mountable Terrace and Fire District No. 1, the Fire District would manage and direct the city's fire department over the next five years, while a full consolidation is assessed and explored. The agreement provided for the implementation of fire-based advanced life support service on January 1, 2002 and the consolidation of Mountlake Terrace's Fire Station No. 18 with the District's Station No. 22. The realization of these changes would provide a more efficient, systemic service delivery while insuring the maintenance of high quality fire and emergency medical service.
- Mountlake Terrace Fire Services - Mountlake Terrace
- Snohomish County Fire District 1 (Consolidation of Fire District 1 and 11 in 1999)
- Edmonds and Snohomish County Fire District No. 1
Monroe & Snohomish County Fire District No. 3
Fire protection and emergency medical services within the city of Monroe were provided through a joint operation of the city of Monroe and Snohomish County Fire District 3. A joint operating board made up of three elected commissioners and three city council members governed the fire department In March of 2006 Monroe annexed to the fire district.
East Jefferson Fire and Rescue and Port Townsend
Interlocal agreement for joint operation and management of fire services between Port Townsend and Jefferson County Fire District 1 (East Jefferson Fire Rescue); includes a joint oversight board; term is for 3 years beginning January 1, 2006, and continues thereafter until terminated. Jefferson County Fire District No. 6 merged with Fire District No. 1 in 2005.
Vancouver and Clark Co. Fire District No. 5
In 1994, the Vancouver Fire Department and Fire District No. 5 consolidated to form the fifth largest department in the state of Washington. The department currently serves 186,000 people across a 100-square-mile area.
Cities Providing Services to Other Cities
- Bellevue and Beaux Arts - Town of Beaux Arts Village Resolution 125 (12/1997). Bellevue also provides fire services to Hunts Point, Medina, Newcastle and Yarrow Point
- Tacoma and Fircrest
- Agreement for consolidation of fire protection and emergency services in which Tacoma provides services to the city of Fircrest for a period of 10 years; renewable in 10-year increments authorized by Tacoma Ordinance No. 25744 (1995)
- Articles from Fircrest Town Topics, 1995
Cities Providing Services to Fire Districts
- Enumclaw and King County FPD No. 28 - Interlocal agreement for fire and emergency medical services by and between the city of Enumclaw and King County Fire Protection District No. 28; begins January 1, 1999 and is automatically renewed annually unless canceled, (12/1998).
- Puyallup and Pierce County Fire District No. 6 - Interlocal agreement with Pierce County Fire Protection District No. 11 for fire and emergency medical services. Note: Puyallup annexed to Pierce County Fire District No. 6, Central Pierce Fire and Rescue, in 2008. Beginning on January 1, 2009, fire and medic services within the city of Puyallup are provided by Central Pierce Fire and Rescue.
- Snoqualmie and King County Fire District No. 38
- Sumner and Pierce County Fire Districts - Note in 2008 Sumner voted to annex to, and Pierce County Fire District 1 voted merge with East Pierce Fire and Rescue
- Interlocal Agreement between Pierce County Fire District No. 1 and Sumner for the city to provide fire prevention, fire suppression, emergency medical, advanced life support, and hazardous materials incident response services to all properties within the district; district provides use of equipment; agreement was for minimum of 10 years (7-00)
- Interlocal Agreement for Pierce County Fire Protection District No. 22 (East Pierce Fire and Rescue) to provide administrative services to the city of Sumner and Pierce County Fire Protection District No. 1
Fire Districts Providing Services to Cities
- Burien and King County Fire Protection District No. 2, Special Services Agreement between for specialized services, in addition to regular services, of fire code inspection, preconstruction plan review, fire investigation, and water flow testing. Burien is annexed to FPD No. 2. Agreement effective January 1996 and continues for such time as city remains as part of the district.
- Lacey and Thurston County Fire District No. 3, Service Agreement [from January 1, 1999 ending December 31, 2004. (4-15-99) Current agreement provides services to terminate December 2010. Note Lacey voted to Annex to Fire District, April 27, 2010. See Documents Related to Annexation on City of Lacey Web.
- Pe Ell and Lewis County Fire Protection District No. 11, Agreement for fire protection services to be provided fire district; no termination date, provides for annual review, 12-04
- Whatcom County Fire District No. 7 and the City of Ferndale, Agreement for Fire Protection Services January 2000 to December 31, 2004, (11-99)
- Port Orchard and Kitsap County Fire Protection District No. 7 - Agreement between City of Port Orchard and Kitsap County Fire Protection District No. 7 for the district to replace city fire department and provide fire protection services including fire suppression, fire prevention, review and inspection, emergency medical, emergency hazardous substances, and others incidental to the protection of persons and property. (10/02/1997) - Note Port Orchard Annexed to the Fire District in 2001.
- Yelm and Yelm Fire District No. 2, Agreement for the fire district to respond to all fire, rescue and medical emergency alarms and perform fire prevention, fire investigation, public education, community services and such other usual and customary services as are provided within the district; effective June 1, 2002. Became part of South East Thurston Regional Fire Authority in February 2010 election.
Special Agreements with Other Agencies
Annexation to Fire District
A city or town may annex to a fire protection district as authorized by RCW 52.04.061. Annexation is initiated by the city/town council adopting an ordinance stating an intent to join the fire protection district. The ordinance is then forwarded to the board of fire commissioners of the fire protection district. If they concur in the annexation, then a special election is held in the city and in the fire protection district on the issue. If a majority of the voters in the city and a majority of the voters in the district are in favor of the annexation, then the city is annexed to the fire protection district. The annual tax levy imposed by the fire protection district then applies throughout the district, including within the corporate limits of any city that has annexed to the district. Currently 49 cities are known to have annexed to fire protection districts. See list of cities annexed to fire districts on MRSC page Local Government Fire Protection Service Providers
- Blaine Ordinance No. 03-2550 - States intent to initiate the annexation of the city of Blaine into and to join Whatcom County Fire Protection District No. 13, passed 06/2003
- Poulsbo and Kitsap County Fire Protection District No. 18
- Poulsbo Ordinance No. 99-17 - Notice on Intent to Annex and Requesting a Special Election
- Interlocal Agreement for annexation of Poulsbo to Kitsap County Fire Protection District No. 18
- Agreement for fire prevention services between Poulsbo and Kitsap County Fire Protection District No. 18, 12/2003