Local fire district still seeking to merge

Professional firefighters union members said they are 100-150 signatures away from completing the merger of District 12 (Chico) with Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue.

Union firefighters gathered signatures in the district Aug. 5-7 and Aug. 12-14. They have plans to go out again this month.

The 20 or so firefighters collected nearly 700 names closing in on the magic number considerably.

According to Kitsap County elections supervisor Dolores Gilmore, the district had 3,495 registered voters meaning 2,097 signatures are needed.

But there have been a few snags along the way. The original petition cards were mailed Jan. 10 of this year with the hopes signatures would pour in without a need for an election. Under state law, signatures from three-fifths of the registered voters in the district are needed to approve a merger.

The cards seem to have been mistaken for junk mail or are returned with inadequate information.

People in the past half year or so have moved from the district, meaning their signatures are no longer valid.

District 12 Fire Commissioner Bob Miller referred to the whole process as a mess, but said the signature collection will continue until they get it done.

Hopefully it will get done,” Miller said.

“For the most part people have been receptive,” said CKFR Lt. Brian Danskin, president of IAFF Local No. 2819.

The local union has been fairly active in the political areas, Danskin said, but don’t usually go door-to-door collecting signatures.

District 1 merged with District 15 in 1999 to form Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue after voters approved the measure. District 12, in order to save taxpayer money, elected to go with a petition drive.

Gilmore said she’s seen signatures gathered by forms in the newspaper as well as mailed petitions.

Currently the all-volunteer District 12 contracts ALS (advanced life support) responses with CKFR. Four professional firefighters man a station within District 12’s boundaries. There is some question as to whether Station 64, which is currently volunteers, will become staffed.

“The professional firefighters union would support the staffing of that station ... but it all comes down to the almighty dollar,” Danskin said.

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