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West Sound Fire & Rescue committee voices concern about progress

The various West Sound Fire & Rescue (WSFR) committees are starting to feel the time crunch of the planning process.

The WSFR planning committee met Tuesday evening in Bremerton to hear updates on the progress of the numerous sub-committees researching a range of topics that play a role in the possible fire merger.

The WSFR planning committee meets twice a month to discuss the feasibility of melding Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue (CKFR), Bremerton Fire Department (BFD) and South Kitsap Fire & Rescue (SKFR) into a regional fire authority to be called WSFR.

The timeline for the completion of the WSFR work plan is Jan. 1, 2009. If the work plan is approved by the planning committee, Bremerton City Council and the SKFR and CKFR boards of fire commissioners, the public will vote on WSFR in November 2009, with implementation scheduled for January 2010.

The planning committee heard updates from various sub-committees including finances, labor contracts and future expansion groups at this week’s meeting. Each sub-committee chair told the planning committee things were running smoothly and expect to have their work completed on or before the Jan. 1, 2009 deadline.

“It’s pretty important that we stick to this timeline if at all possible,” SKFR Chief Wayne Senter said.

With only six months until the Jan. 1 deadline, Senter and planning committee members said the sub-committees should be working hard to organize recommendations to present at future planning committee meetings.

“There’s a lot going on behind the scenes,” WSFR planning committee chair and CKFR Commissioner Dave Fergus said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, WSFR planning committee members learned that one sub-committee has yet to hold its first meeting and the group voiced its concern and further discussed how they would meet the Jan. 1 deadline.

Aside from the time crunch, the planning committee also is taking some heat from concerned citizens. Senter informed the planning committee that there are already people opposed to the creation of WSFR. A Web site was recently discovered showing some citizens’ disapproval of the merger between the three fire agencies.

“While we don’t like to see that, that’ll create some good discussion and that can be a positive thing,” Senter said.

For more information about the WSFR planning committee, visit its Web site at www.wsfr.org. The next planning committee meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday, July 15 at the Kitsap Readiness Center in Bremerton. The public is welcome to attend.

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