|Washington Surveying & Rate Bureau (WSRB) Fire Protection Classification|
|By Administration Raechel Ehlers|
|June 19, 2018|
Over the last year and a half, the fire district has been making tremendous strides to improve and better serve the islands. For such the news has regularly been good, however, this time I must share a disappointing note. Earlier this year the Washington Surveying & Rate Bureau (WSRB) evaluated Vashon Island Fire and Rescue. The WSRB is responsible for establishing the island’s Fire Protection Classifications for use by insurance companies for determining fire insurance premiums. In comparison to the last evaluation in 2014, a significant change to three of the five fire stations will impact residences on the north and south ends of Vashon as well as much of Maury Island.
While Vashon Island Fire and Rescue has increased the number of full-time firefighters to three daily, only one fire station is staffed twenty-four hours a day. However, the WSRB will consider a station staffed if six firefighters (volunteer or paid) live within five road miles of the station and will respond out of it. In 2014 it was believed that this standard was met. This year we know it is not true. We actually have no firefighters serving out of the northern or southern stations and only one remains active out of the Dockton Fire Station. For this lack of staff, properties within five miles of only these stations will see their Protection Classification jump from a 5 to a 9. If your property is within five road miles of the Main Fire Station or the Burton Fire Station there will be no change in classification.
Unfortunately, how these changes impact insurance rates is solely known, and calculated, by the various insurance companies. The fix is not necessarily easy, but for the south end and Maury Island it is straightforward; once the stations have six or more firefighters living within five miles of the stations and responding out of them, we inform the WSRB and the classification can be returned to 5. As the fire engine out of the north end fire station was retired last year returning staffing to it is not the only obstacle.
We are proactively working to address this and we need your help. Simply put - we need more Volunteer firefighters living around these stations. The district will be running a Fire Academy to train and certify more firefighters in January of 2019. The program runs approximately five months with most of the classes occurring on Vashon Island. This program is at no cost to Volunteers, except time. We realize that this is still a sizable commitment and are happy to answer any questions you have. Please call 206-463-2405 or visit VIFR.org for information.
As always, thank you for all of your time, consideration, input and assistance in the successful mitigation of this matter. I look forward to our next conversations regarding the continual improvement of the District.
Charles H. Krimmert, Fire Chief