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.
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 fire protection jurisdictions (fire district, city, town, port district, municipal airport, regional fire protection service authority, or Indian tribe) located within "reasonable proximity." 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.
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)).
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)).
MRSC is currently aware of 13 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.
- 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
- Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority (established 2010, formerly Kent Fire Department RFA) - Includes City of Kent and King County FPD No. 37 (Covington annexed); provides service to SeaTac
- 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
- Riverside Fire Authority (established 2008) - City of Centralia and Lewis County Fire District No. 12
- North Mason Regional Fire Authority (established 2014) - Includes Mason County Fire District No. 2 and Mason County Fire District No. 8
- Marysville Fire District Regional Fire Authority (established 2019) - Snohomish County FPD No. 12 and City of Marysville
- North County Regional Fire Authority (established 2007) - Snohomish County FPD Nos. 14 and 18 and City of Arlington
- South Snohomish County Fire & Rescue (established 2017) - Snohomish County FPD No. 1, City of Lynnwood, City of Mill Creek
- Southeast Thurston Fire Authority (established 2010) - Includes Yelm, Thurston County FPD No. 2, FPD No. 4 (Rainier annexed)
- West Thurston Regional Fire Authority (established 2009) - Includes Thurston County FPD No. 1 and Thurston County FPD No. 11
- South Whatcom Fire Authority (established 2009) - Whatcom County FPD Nos. 2, 6, 9, and 10
Regional Fire Protection Plans
- Kent Fire Department Regional Fire Authority Service Plan (2010) – Created by Kent and a fire protection district; later renamed Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority
- North Mason Regional Fire Authority Service Plan (2013) – Created by two fire protection districts; includes joint resolution submitting plan to voters.
- South Whatcom Regional Fire Authority Service Plan (2008) – Created by four fire protection districts
- West Benton Regional Fire Authority Service Plan (2014) – Created by Prosser and a fire protection district; includes joint resolution submitting plan to voters.
Other Regional Fire Authority Documents
- Bothell/Northshore/Snohomish #10 Regional Fire Authority Feasibility Study (2015) – Feasibility study for proposed regional fire authority between Bothell and two fire districts. Proposal was later abandoned and never submitted to voters.
- Woodland Resolution No. 608 (2012) – Authorizing city staff to participate in development of draft regional fire plan with Battle Ground and two fire protection districts; plan was later defeated by voters.
- Yakima/Union Gap Regional Fire Authority Fiscal Analysis (2012) – Fiscal analysis of proposed regional fire authority between Yakima, Union Gap, and two fire protection districts; plan was abandoned and never submitted to voters.
- Regional Fire Authority: Implementation Guide for Fire Departments in Washington State, jointly developed by the Washington Fire Chiefs and Washington State Council of Fire Fighters
- Regional Fire Protection Service Authority (2008), by Dan Heid, City Attorney of Auburn, Proceedings of the Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys, 2008 Annual Fall Conference
- Regional Fire Authority Frequently Asked Questions (2009) - Posted with permission of Joseph F. Quinn, Legal Counsel for Valley Regional Fire Authority, Riverside Fire Authority, and West Thurston Fire Authority
- Washington Fire Commissioners Association Fire District & RFA Resources - Various pamphlets, help topics and example documents