On Tuesday, April 1, I attended a Town Hall meeting at Fire Station 21 held by Orcas Fire and Rescue Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien and the Fire District Commissioners regarding the Fire/EMS Levy proposal to be voted on April 22. Having read nearly everything available related to the proposed levy, I thought it worthwhile to attend the meeting to get a better understanding of the levy request. Following the meeting I realized I not only understood more, I also learned a lot.
Chief O’Brien’s presentation was very informative and he responded to all questions and comments thoroughly and thoughtfully. He described many of the unique challenges posed in providing emergency fire, rescue and medical services to an island community. Chief O’Brien sought input, not only from members of OIFR, but also members of the community to help craft a strategic plan that will guide the department for the next several years. Besides fire, rescue and EMS, he told us of the many other services and programs OIFR members provide to island citizens and visitors.
I had a 40-year career in fire and emergency medical services, the last 20 of those were as fire chief. I understand the challenges Chief O’Brien faces, particularly those presented when seeking the resources necessary to fund the essential services OIFR provides. He and the fire commissioners have created a budget that is fiscally sound and transparent which will appropriately fund the services so essential to our quality of life. The Fire/EMS levy deserves our support.