Combining the fire departments of Woodinville, Shoreline and Northshore is still a possibility — an option that the Northshore Fire Department board of commissioners approve exploring.
At a recent gathering on June 4 the topic of regionalization was brought before the board again. During a commissioner meeting in May, firefighter union leaders expressed that the option should be explored.
And again Anders Hansson, president of Northshore’s union IAFF Local 2459, returned to communicate that action should be taken on setting the plan in motion.
“Labor does not believe we need more analysis and studies, enough of those have already been done,” Hansson said. “It’s time to stop trying to find reasons why regionalization does not make sense and instead identify all the reasons regionalization not only adds operational and administrative efficiency (but also) improves service to our citizens.”
Now is the time, he said, for the chiefs and labor to work together to demonstrate “how and why regionalization makes sense.”
These talks were sparked after Northshore Fire Chief Jim Torpin and fire commissioners entered into a severance agreement — giving way to an early retirement for Torpin. This consensus was reached in May.
For the time being deputy chief Eric Magnuson is acting chief, and will remain in this position until the board has had time to decide future steps.
Magnuson seemed to agree with the possibility of a serious examination into combining the fire departments in a way that would prove beneficial for staff and tax payers.
This area of north King County is one of the few places not seeking regionalization of fire resources.
“It certainly seems that multiple small agencies all with the same structure, doing the same thing, is an inefficient model,” Magnuson said, in his summary of points from a memo seeking board direction on regionalization.
The acting chief said he and the chiefs from the other departments could provide a good idea of what a north end department could look like. In the very least it would allow the board to ask more questions and point to what needs to be addressed.
“If we can’t come up with the right answers than maybe it’s not the right thing to do but I suspect that we could probably satisfy your needs,” Magnuson said.
Given that a fair amount of work has been done — in making this plan a reality prior to Torpin’s departure — an initial draft plan on a north end department could be created in two to three months, Magnuson said. This will be the next step in making a combined department a reality.