The Key Peninsula Board of Fire Commissioners voted Tuesday night to put a $3.2 million four-year maintenance and operations levy on the November ballot.
If it’s approved by a 60 percent supermajority of voters in the district, the levy would raise $800,000 during each of the next four years for Pierce County Fire District 16.
The money would pay for salaries, training and safety equipment for eight firefighter/EMT positions.
The levy is being proposed, the department said, to help the Key Peninsula Fire Department improve its response times and ensure enough firefighters are available for emergencies. Three fires in April and May focused a spotlight on the challenges the department faces as it attempts to provide adequate emergency response.
No body died in the three recent fires, but a firefighter was hospitalized for heat exhaustion and dehydration.
The levy would cost an estimated 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed value in 2013, 46 cents in 2014, and 49 cents in both 2015 and 2016. The 2013 levy would cost the owner of a $225,000 home an additional $8.25 per month.
Commissioners and other fire department officials stressed that, while the amount of money requested per year would remain the same over the levy’s four-year duration, fluctuations in the assessed valuation of homes and property would affect the levy rate charged property owners.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, a fire district the size of the Key Peninsula Fire Department, which serves 17,000 people in a 65-square-mile area, should be able to respond to a fire or emergency medical call within five minutes 90 percent of the time. Because of staff shortages, the department failed to meet that basic standard 85 percent of the time for fires and nearly 92 percent of time for medical calls in 2011, the department reported.