Fire Department Commissioners review expenses and plans

Strategic Review, employment agreement, Deer Harbor station, Community Report all in the works



Actions taken at the Orcas Island Fire Commissioners meeting on April 8 included formally accepting Former Assistant Battalion Chief Buddy Wright’s resignation, dated March 11, setting the date for the Strategic Plan Review, and researching the purchase of the West Sound station.


Rick Anda, Department Financial Manager reported that by the end of March the year-to-date expenditures, was $322,102 or 21.1 percent of the annual budget. The fund balance was $1,393,854. Budget reporting is complicated by the fact that the has no “suspense accounts” whereby expenses and reimbursement offset each other. For example, repairs to Engine 25 costing $10,000 were reimbursed by $10,380 from insurance and other revenue sources.

Expenditures during March included $2,700, the annual fee to King County Medical for online training, and $3,800 for District training. Upon questioning by John Erly, it was reported that the training expenditure was so that Max Jones, Public Information Officer for the district, could go to California to complete EMS training, as she was unable to complete the course offered earlier this year by the district.See related story A7

Deer Harbor station

Fire Chief Mike Harris’ written report to the Commissioners stated that there are still issues regarding the size, height, and setbacks of the proposed Deer Harbor station. Commissioners stated that as the district “makes its case as to its needs and options… we don’t see the footprint changing, but redesigning the lower level, so we can add on the back in the future as the need dictates.”

Report to the Community

Although the Report to the Community has been in the works for several months, it has “shifted focus fairly recently” and is not yet ready. It may be ready by the time of the Department’s Strategic Plan Review, and Commissioners felt that an agenda for the Plan Review could be set at their next meeting, April 22, with the Review meeting itself tentatively set for the following Tuesday, April 29.

Employment agreement

Discussion of the newly drafted Employment Agreement focused on the “lateral movement issue,” with Commissioner Clyde Duke saying that “We need to get that defined more, because in our case, it could be a large lateral move.” The draft agreement has been adapted from the Orcas Island School District’s employment agreement.


Anda reported payment from the Fire Department for two “small accidents,” one involving the district ambulance which hit a parked vehicle, and another involving “brush rig” which backed into a fence post, damaging the fence of a private property owner.

The commissioners approved the middle bid of $1,350 for repair to the damaged vehicle and authorize reimbursement to the fence-owner of an amount not to exceed $1,200.

Anda reported that three claims have been submitted to the County Prosecutor for reimbursement to the Fire Department for expenses involved in their response to alcohol-related accidents.

Maintenance agreement

Jack Delisle contract to maintain Fire Department engines was renewed for 90 days. Helpful with parking lot sealing.

Volunteer association President Toby Brown brought up that former district employees performed maintenance to the fire station building as well as to the engines, and noted that a sprinkler system leak requiring a compressor to run daily was not being addressed in maintenance of the fire station. Brown said there were “some serious maintenance issues” at the fire station, and expressed concern that Delisle was only on-site one week out of the month.

Commissioners responded that there were two vendors on the island who were contracted for vehicle repair back-up should Delisle not be on Orcas Island.

Public comments

Former commissioner Duff Andrews commented that the public needed a little more information at meetings, so that they could know what the commissioners were talking about when they discussed matters such as the maintenance contract and the community report for example.

Andrews also noted that no action had yet been taken on Wright’s resignation, submitted March 11. The commissioners later voted to accept the resignation.

Upon questioning by Pam Harney, Anda replied that Wright’s pay in March was pro-rated through his date of resignation.

After meeting in executive session to consider a real estate matter, the commissioners voted to pursue the purchase of Station 22 in West Sound.

The next meetings are scheduyled for April 22 and May 13. A strategic plan review meeting has been tentatively scheduled for Apr. 29.