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Regional Fire Protection Service Authorities

This page provides an overview of regional fire protection service authorities in Washington State, including a list of existing authorities, sample regional fire protection service plans, and other documents.


Overview

A regional fire protection service authority (RFPSA) is a special purpose district created by the vote of the people residing in the proposed district (chapter 52.26 RCW). Its boundaries are coextensive with two or more adjacent fire protection jurisdictions (fire district, city, town, port district, municipal airport, or Indian tribe). It is a municipal corporation, an independent taxing authority within the meaning of article 7, section 1 of the state constitution, and a taxing district within the meaning of article 7, section 2 of the state constitution.

Regional fire protection service authorities were authorized in 2004. The legislature noted that the ability to respond to emergency situations by many of Washington state's fire protection jurisdictions had not kept up with the state's needs, particularly in urban regions and that efficiencies could be gained by regional fire protection service delivery.


Formation Process

The first step in forming the district is to create an RFPSA planning committee to draft a regional fire protection service authority plan. The planning committee is composed of three elected officials appointed by the governing bodies of each of the participating fire protection jurisdictions (RCW 52.26.030).

Upon receipt of the plan, the governing bodies of the fire protection jurisdictions may certify the plan to the ballot and put the plan before the voters for their approval or rejection. A single ballot measure may approve formation of the authority and the plan.

If a simple majority of votes cast are in favor, the district is declared organized by resolution of the county commissioners (RCW 52.26.060). However, if the plan authorizes the authority to impose fire benefit charges or 60% voter-approved taxes, the plan must be approved by a 60% supermajority (RCW 52.26.050).

Participating jurisdictions must review the plan every ten years (RCW 52.26.090(1)).


Governing Board

The governing board of the regional fire authority is determined by the plan and must consist of elected officials (RCW 52.26.080(2) and (3)). The statutory language is somewhat unclear, but it appears the board may consist of one of the following options (or a mix of both):

  • Current elected officials from the participating fire protection jurisdictions, such as fire protection district commissioners or city councilmembers
  • Regional fire commissioners elected by the voters of the regional fire authority

For instance, the board could consist of three elected regional fire commissioners, or two city councilmembers and three fire protection district commissioners from participating jurisdictions, or one city councilmember, one fire protection district commissioner, and three elected regional fire commissioners (or any number of other combinations).

The plan must establish the terms of office. The terms must be staggered, and no single term may exceed six years (RCW 52.26.080(3)(b)). If desired, the regional fire authority may establish commissioner districts for the purpose of determining commissioner eligibility and voting in primary elections (RCW 52.26.080(4)).


List of Regional Fire Protection Service Authorities

MRSC is currently aware of 12 regional fire protection service authorities in Washington, almost all in Western Washington. In 2015, the West Benton Regional Fire Authority became the first RFPSA in Eastern Washington.

Benton County

  • West Benton Fire & Rescue (established 2015) - West Benton Fire Authority consists of Prosser and Benton County Fire Protection District No. 3, replacing a former interlocal agreement. Earlier RFPSA attempt failed in 2010 general election.

Grays Harbor/Pacific Counties

  • South Beach Regional Fire Authority (established 2017) - City of Westport, Pacific County FPD No. 5, and Grays Harbor County FPDs No. 3, 11, and 14

King County

  • Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority (established 2010, formerly Kent Fire Department RFA) - Includes City of Kent, King County FPD No. 37 (Covington annexed), and SeaTac (King County FPD No. 24 annexed)
    • Joint Resolution (2010) - Kent Resolution No. 1820 and King County FPD No. 37 Resolution No. 353 - Submits regional fire authority proposition to the voters; includes RFPSA plan
  • Renton Regional Fire Authority (established 2016) - Includes City of Renton and King County FPD No. 25
  • Valley Regional Fire Authority (established 2007) - Cities of Algona, Auburn, and Pacific
    • Presentation at Puget Sound Finance Officers Association (2007) - Includes reports, resolutions, bylaws, plan, memos

Lewis County

Mason County

Snohomish County

  • North County Regional Fire Authority (established 2007) - Snohomish County FPD Nos. 14 and 18
  • South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue (established 2017) - Snohomish County FPD No. 1 and the City of Lynnwood

Thurston County

Whatcom County


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Last Modified: December 01, 2017