Brinnon Fire puts $1.2 million bond on fall ballot

Posted 8/21/19

Brinnon Fire Chief Tim Manly is launching a public information campaign to tell voters what the $1.2 million bond on the Nov. 5 ballot will deliver to their fire department and why he chose a 10-year term for the bond.

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Brinnon Fire puts $1.2 million bond on fall ballot

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Brinnon Fire Chief Tim Manly is launching a public information campaign to tell voters what the $1.2 million bond on the Nov. 5 ballot will deliver to their fire department and why he chose a 10-year term for the bond.

WHAT THEY PROPOSE

Through local Facebook groups, press interviews and old-fashioned face-to-face, Manly is explaining the Brinnon Fire Department’s need to upgrade its aging fleet and equipment.

“We need a new aid car, two new fire engines and a new command vehicle, and we need to retrofit our existing water tender,” Manly told The Leader.

He also says the Department must upgrade or purchase the medical equipment, fire equipment and hose to safely and efficiently fight fires and respond to rescue calls.

Both of the department’s existing fire engines were built 31 years ago and carry only enough water for three minutes of hose-spray.

“These engines were designed for the city, with hydrants that produce 250 gallons a minute beyond those first three minutes,” Manly stated. “In a rural setting such as ours, a community can see fire engines serve for roughly 20 years. Ours are 33 years old, have begun failing critical annual pump inspections, and require extensive and expensive maintenance to pass inspections.”

The two replacement fire engines being proposed are:

• A 2,500-gallon “pumper tender,” that Manly anticipated would perform like the current engines, but bring enough water for 10 minutes of hose work at 250 gallons per minute.

• A 1,500-gallon pumper tender for access into narrow drives etc, and to serve as a second-out apparatus and a backup “when his big brother is out of service” for maintenance.

Manly expects one of the 1986 engines would be sold as surplus, while the other would be kept as a training-only engine to save wear on the department’s main engines.

The Department’s water tender is a 27-year-old International with “about 10 years of life left,” but can’t supply water efficiently, Manly stated, elaborating that the bond would pay to retrofit the water truck, which carries 2,500 gallons of water to supply engines when no hydrant is nearby.

Together with the pumper tender engines, Manly estimated the newly compliant water tender would provide more than 20 minutes of water on a scene, giving mutual aid fire districts “ample time” to arrive with additional water

One of the fire department’s two current ambulances is a 1996 Ford E350, whose 23 years puts it well past an aid car’s average service life of five to 10 years.

With more than 100,000 miles on its odometer, Manly declared the 1996 ambulance to be living “on borrowed time.”

Although the department’s other ambulance, a 2008 Ford F450, is a year past the decade-long outer limit for an aid car’s average service life, Manly noted it had a new engine installed last year, after a “catastrophic engine failure” while transporting a critically ill patient to the hospital.

“The new motor gave it another five-plus years with Brinnon Fire,” Manly stated, adding that the remaining ambulance would be made a backup or second-out ambulance.

Proposed under the bond is a new F450 ambulance, with four-wheel drive like the 2008 model, to serve as the first-out aid car for EMS emergencies.

The department’s current command vehicle is a 2006 Ford Expedition that had a new motor installed two years ago. He proposes to move into a support status, for off-road emergencies, training activities and various other work.

If voters approve the bond, the department would purchase a new command vehicle, and use the 2006 Ford Expedition to replace the department’s current support vehicle, a 21-year-old Chevy Suburban.

Other equipment the Department proposes to purchase with bond funds include a large-diameter hose to connect water to the pumper tenders through long driveways and narrow roads, plus upgraded fire nozzles, chainsaws, a K-12 rescue saw to cut through concrete, and other firefighting equipment, including a replacement for 20-year-old, “jaws of life” gear that is used to pop open doors on wrecked cars or cut steel to extract accident victims. Manly stated the set now in use takes four minutes to set up and start, while those he proposes to buy are battery-operated, working “instantly with the flip of a switch,” when seconds count to trauma patients

The final line item to be replaced are the automatic external defibrillators.

THE PAYMENT PLAN

Manly said voters are not being asked to approve a 20-year bond, no matter what the ballots themselves say.

“I don’t want to spend the next 20 years paying for equipment that, on average, is only going to last us about 10 years,” Manly said.

The Brinnon Fire Department is asking voters to approve a 10-year, $1.2 million bond, which would add up to 45 cents per $1,000 of assessed property tax valuation, or $7.50 a month on a $200,000 home, which Manly says is the average home price in Brinnon.

This would come to $90 a year for 10 years, or $900 during the life of the bond, which Manly assured the public will sunset after 10 years.

On the actual ballot, it will say up to 20 years for the bond to be repaid, but Manly explained this is because bonds are normally written in 20-year increments.

“But I’ve spoken with the County Assessor’s Office, and I’ve set up the repayment schedule so that everything is paid back within 10 years,” Manly said. “If we really were on a 20-year plan, all those payments would be half as much.”

Manly encourages the public to bring their questions and concerns to him, either during the fire commissioner meetings on the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m., or by phone at 360-796-4450 or via email at tmanly@brinnonfire.org.

“I will personally give you a tour, and show you or your group the apparatus and equipment described,” Manly stated. “If you’re not available, I’d be happy to schedule other times. Drop-ins are also welcomed.”

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