Fire commissioners attempt permanent EMS levy renewal in August - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Fire commissioners attempt permanent EMS levy renewal in August 2016

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The next public meeting will be April 7th from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The next public meeting will be April 7th from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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WEST RICHLAND, WA- Benton County Fire District 4 held their last of two public meetings to receive comments about the proposed EMS levy renewal.

Fire commissioners are attempting to go for a permanent levy that will keep rates concurrent with 50 cents per $1,000.00 of assessed property value. 40% of the last held general election turn out must vote in this year's primary. They can renew the EMS levy with a super majority of 60 plus one.

In 2015, Benton County Fire District 4 responded to over 1,300 calls, 63% of them being EMS related. 

EMS services include basic life support with emergency medical technicians and advanced life support with highly skilled paramedics. The current levy expires at the end of 2016.

You can find out more information by clicking here.

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WEST RICHLAND, WA- The Board of Fire Commissioners for Benton County Fire District No. 4 are asking for the public's opinions on renewing an Emergency Medical Service Levy in this August's Primary.

Benton County Fire District No. 4 wants to have an open discussion with the public, to tell them what the EMS Levy is and what it does.  It is currently set to expire this year and the board wants to get the word out to people and answer questions they have.

The fire district responds to an average 1,300 calls a year, and serves around 17,000 people throughout the West Richland community. 

"EMS calls are our largest percentage of calls that we have. With an ambulance, you can save more lives than you could with a fire truck," said AJ Hill, Fire Commissioner, BCFD #4.

63% of calls are medical emergencies.  Since 2010, EMS calls have increased 57% for the fire district.  The service, first requested six years ago, is now expiring.  Benton County Fire District No. 4 commissioners are working to make sure it is renewed.  EMS includes transport services, basic life support, advanced life support, and more.

"Most of the public can run away from a fire, but when you have an emergency medical service issue, you don't run away from those," said Chief William Whealan, Benton County Fire District No. 4.

It comes at a cost, 50 cents for every $1,000.  An example the fire district used is a home owner with a $250,000 house will pay a little more than $10 a month or $125 dollars a year.  If the levy is renewed, that rate will stay the same.

"What we're really trying to do here is make sure that we have a stable funding source moving forward so we can make the plans to actually address the community's needs as it does grow," said Whealan.

If not passed, Benton County Fire District No. 4 could lose up to 8 staff members.  

"We'd love to hear the input.  Again, we're hear to listen to the citizens and to provide a service that they want," said Hill.

"For me, I'm standing here in front of you today because I had my stroke on March 16, 2015 and I think that says a lot.  If I didn't have this service, I might not be here today," said Whealan.

The next public meeting is Thursday, April 7th from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Station 420 on Bombing Range Road in West Richland. For those not able to attend but would still like to contribute, contact the fire district at 509-967-2945 or email Chief Whealan at wwhealan@bcfd4.org.

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