Fairfield wants to fight fire by joining Spokane County Fire District 2.
About 400 people live in Fire District 2, which fights fires and responds to medical emergencies in rural, southeastern Spokane County.
Fire District 2 has a roughly $150,000 annual budget and 25 volunteer firefighters. It’s already Fairfield’s firefighting agency, but the town and its 600 residents aren’t in the district.
Fairfield property owners don’t directly fund Fire District 2. Ever since Fairfield got rid of its fire department some 20 years ago, the town has contracted with the fire district for firefighting services.
Fire District 2 Chief Eric Olson said the current arrangement has a couple of downsides.
For instance, if the district ever wanted to ask for a tax increase, Fairfield residents wouldn’t be able to vote on it. If district voters approved the tax increase, Fairfield residents would have to indirectly pay for it despite not having had any say in the matter.
Similarly, Olson pointed out that Fairfield residents can’t vote for, or serve as, District 2 fire commissioners. Fire commissioners are the elected representatives who oversee fire districts.
The Spokane County Commission on Nov. 28 will decide whether to place the Fire District 2 question on the Feb. 13 special election ballot. Voters in Fairfield and the unincorporated parts of District 2 will be able to weigh in on the issue.
If voters decide Fairfield should join the district, the tax implications for property owners will likely be minor. Joining District 2 would change how Fairfield residents pay for firefighting services, but it wouldn’t significantly change how much they pay.
“Our calls-for-service volume would not change,” Olson said. “Our costs would not change.”