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Community again invited to discuss fire, EMS regionalization Sept. 5

ARLINGTON — After the cancellation of a previously scheduled meeting, the community is invited to attend a rescheduled special meeting of the Arlington City Council to discuss the results of a study that was commissioned to explore how fire and emergency medical services in North Snohomish County might work together in the future.

The Byrnes Performing Arts Center at Arlington High School will serve as the site of the special City Council meeting on Thursday, Sept. 5, starting at 5:30 p.m. Firefighters from Arlington, Arlington Heights, Silvana, Lakewood, Marysville, Getchell and Tulalip Bay were among those representing 14 fire districts at a previous special meeting at the PAC on Aug. 30 of last year to discuss the future of fire and EMS in Arlington and North Snohomish County as a whole.

The Arlington City Council voted unanimously on Dec. 17 of last year for the city of Arlington to take part in the joint regional fire services cooperative effort study, along with half a dozen other agencies, following Arlington Fire Chief Bruce Stedman's recommendation of the proposed study by Emergency Services Consulting International, an international consulting firm that specializes in emergency services cooperative effort studies. The goal of the study was to identify critical issues facing Arlington and other agencies in their ongoing mission to provide fire and emergency medical services to their citizens. To that end, the study has focused on Arlington and other fire and EMS agencies' current service levels, strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for cooperative efforts with regional agencies.

During the review process of the study, ESCI received additional information from the seven participating agencies. As a result of this routine response, ESCI requested additional time to review and assess the additional information, and the meeting which had been scheduled for July 31 was cancelled.

"We want to carefully consider the additional information as we finalize the study," Don Bivins, an associate with ESCI, said after the original meeting was cancelled. "Additional time is needed to verify the new information in order to provide the area policymakers with the information they need to make any decisions on cooperative fire and EMS services."

The Arlington and Arlington Rural fire and EMS agencies were joined in participating in this study by similar agencies from Darrington, Silvana, Tulalip Bay, Camano Island and the North County Regional Fire Authority. Of the total cost of $76,062.92 to fund the study, Arlington is funding $13,746.55, or approximately 18.05 percent of that total.

"We were fortunate that our friends in North County agreed to participate," said Arlington City Administrator Allen Johnson, referencing the somewhat more expensive $14,018.41 price tag that Arlington would have had to pay if the North County Regional Fire Authority had not taken part. "The formula for how much each agency paid was based on its population, square miles and assessed property value, which seems to be the fairest way to do it. I'm personally delighted with these numbers. I would have thought that the amount we would have to pay would be much higher."

ESCI developed a work plan and scheduled site visits with all the participating agencies in time for all of their contracts to be signed on Jan. 15 of this year, at which point ESCI issued agency information request forms to all its clients. From there, ESCI began its site visits on Feb. 15, and had forecast that it would complete its feasibility study by Aug. 15.

The Byrnes Performing Arts Center is located at 18821 Crown Ridge Blvd. in Arlington, and doors open at 5 p.m. for the Sept. 5 meeting.

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