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Thursday, April 2, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Candidates seek to prevent wildfires, lower insurance costs in Spokane County Fire District 4

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 17, 2019

By Matthew Kincanon For The Spokesman-Review

A college math instructor hopes to bring new perspective to the commission leading Spokane County Fire District 4. To do so, he would have to defeat the commission’s chairman who has many years of experience in public safety.

Incumbent Roger Krieger said Fire District 4 has hired a consultant to review hazardous areas where fires could get out of hand and develop concepts to reduce overgrown brush and offer private citizens ways to protect their homes.

“If we can have them have options to perhaps do some small burning of timber and dead trees and all those kinds of things, that’s just a reasonable way for citizens in our neck of the woods, that aren’t real rich, to have ways to protect their homes and try to make it sensible for all of us,” Krieger said.

Rux had similar opinions on the topic, saying that the policy on getting homeowners to thin the trees on their property should be emphasized more.

“The DNR out of Colville is working with many landowners across Eastern Washington right now,” Rux said. “Forest fires will happen, so we need a quick response. I hope to increase firefighting capability with more firemen employed.”

Krieger said that he aims to keep Insurance Service Office ratings low to save district patrons money on homeowners insurance. He said the district recently added a 22-year-old ladder truck that will improve ratings. The district also has worked to make it easier for citizens who have forested lots or underbrush to burn some of it to keep fire dangers down.

Rux acknowledged the significance of lowering ratings, yet said he would use other means to reduce insurance costs.

“While the ISO is important, I would work to keep the insurance costs down with some of the other metrics used by the insurance industry,” Rux said.

If elected, Rux plans to expand services without raising taxes using some personnel and equipment that are not being utilized to their full potential.

“I’ve got some ideas I’m hoping I can implement and maybe we can get better coverage and better fire support services for less money,” Rux said.

Rux said he would bring important outside perspective to the commission. Given his master’s degree in mathematics and background in teaching college statistics, he said that he knows how to deal with numbers and handle money.

Krieger said the district does not have the capability to raise a lot of taxes. The commission has kept tax levy rates at their maximum through reauthorization votes to maintain the level of service.

“We’re going to have to try to operate with what we have, so that’s the challenge, obviously, as the district continues to grow,” Krieger said.

Rux said he wants to recruit more volunteers and have them work on more regular shifts to improve response times and coverage.

Krieger said the district is constantly recruiting volunteers, and there is currently a recruiting academy in Fire District 4, which brings in around 20 volunteers a year. .

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