What is a Regional Fire Authority?
A Regional Fire Authority (RFA) is a special purpose district established by voters in a service area that provides funding for fire and medical emergency services. An RFA can be made up of cities, fire districts or a combination of the two. Click here to download the Renton Regional Fire Authority Plan.
An RFA is created by vote of the people in the proposed service area. Together, voters in Renton and Fire District 25 approved the creation and funding of the Renton RFA by more than the required 60% majority. The creation of an RFA is authorized by state law, Chapter 52.26, Revised Code of Washington.
Why was the RFA created?
An RFA ensures adequate and protected funding to improve response times and enhance services as our population grows.
In 2015, the Renton Fire and Emergency Services Department responded to 14,945 emergency incidents, including fires and fire investigations, medical emergencies, motor vehicle accidents, hazardous materials responses, water rescues, and specialized technical rescues. Fire and emergency service personnel are certified as both firefighters and emergency medical technicians, and are posted at six fire stations strategically located in the service area.
Response times in areas served by four of the six Renton fire stations have not met City adopted targets over the last four years. Population and calls for service have grown faster than firefighter staffing levels. Fire and emergency medical services historically have been funded primarily by property taxes. Property tax revenues have grown at a slower rate than operating costs, calls for service, and population of the service area.
Combined City tax revenues per capita, adjusted for inflation, have dropped over 30 percent since 2000. In this same time, the City’s population has nearly doubled and is projected to grow 40% over the next two decades.
After considering various alternatives, Renton and Fire District 25 pursued the creation of an RFA to fund fire and emergency medical services. The new RFA was approved by the voters in April, 2016, and the Renton Regional Fire Authority officially began operations July 1, 2016.
Why are response times so critical?
Seconds matter. Brain death and permanent death start to occur in just four to six minutes with cardiac arrest patients. Cardiac arrest is reversible with an electric shock (defibrillation) and CPR, but a victim’s chances of survival are reduced by 7-10% with every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation.
Fires today burn hotter and faster due to many more synthetic materials in our homes. This video, made by the National Institute of Standards and Testing, shows the danger of modern fires compared to the danger of fires occurring 40 years ago. Keep your eye on the clock!
The modern room took less than four minutes to reach “flashover” – the point at which everything in the room is burning. The flashover time in the legacy room was 29 minutes.
Who else has created a Regional Fire Authority?
There are currently ten RFAs in the state of Washington. Three are in south King County:
- Valley Regional Fire Authority: composed of the cities of Auburn, Pacific, and Algona; created in 2007.
- Puget Sound Regional Fire Authority (formerly Kent Regional Fire Authority): composed of the cities of Kent, Covington, and Fire District 37; created in 2010.
- Renton Regional Fire Authority: composed of the city of Renton and Fire District 25; created in 2016.
Other jurisdictions including Tukwila, Eastside Fire Authority (King County Fire Districts 10 and 38), Maple Valley Fire and Rescue, and Snohomish County Fire District 10 are exploring whether to create new RFAs or join existing ones.
Does creating the RFA mean Fire District 25 is annexed into the City of Renton?
No, creating the RFA does not change the boundaries of either Renton or Fire District 25. Fire District 25 will remain a separate fire district whose services will be provided by the RFA rather than Renton. Any attempt to annex Fire District 25 into Renton would require a separate vote of the residents in Fire District 25 and approval by Renton. Neither action is currently planned.