Print this Page  
City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Mayor Unveils Levy to Upgrade City’s Emergency Response

5/9/2003  12:13:00 PM

Mayor Unveils Levy to Upgrade City's Emergency Response
Proposed Fire and Emergency Response Levy Would Upgrade Outdated Fire Facilities

SEATTLE - Standing in front of the city fire boat "Alki" that went into service in 1927 when Bertha Landes was mayor and Calvin Coolidge was president, Mayor Greg Nickels today announced a proposed levy to bring the city's fire response facilities into the 21st century.

"Alki is a symbol of the Fire Department's great history. But she belongs in a museum, not on the front lines of our response network," said Nickels. "We need to modernize our entire system to respond to emergencies, including fires on land and sea."

Nickels announced a proposed $229 million Fire and Emergency Response Levy to modernize Seattle Fire Department's emergency response capabilities.

"Our firefighters are operating in facilities that are too small and are seismically weak. Some fire stations are more than 75 years old, and the last new fire station was built when Gerald Ford was president," said Nickels.

"When we assessed our fire facilities, we found that two-thirds of our fire stations would be damaged in a major earthquake," said Fire Chief Gary Morris. "We just can't afford to have our firefighters out of service when we need them the most."

Nickels will propose the levy to the City Council next week. With Council approval, the measure could be placed on the November ballot. The levy would cost owners of an average home about $100 per year over nine years. The levy would allow the city to:

  • Expand and upgrade of 20 of the city's 33 fire stations
  • Replace 13 of the city's most outdated fire stations
  • Obtain a new large saltwater fireboat, rehabilitate a freshwater fireboat and obtain a new fast attack small fire rescue boat
  • Create a new training facility for firefighters
  • Build a new fire command center
  • Build a modern emergency operations center
  • Provide community disaster response supplies and shelter infrastructure
  • Obtain new specialized fire hydrants that can be used after an earthquake

"This levy is long overdue. Our first responders have a much different mission today - dealing with terrorist threats, hazardous materials and other calls requiring specialized equipment," said Nickels. "We can't ask our firefighters to handle today's emergencies with yesterday's equipment."

For more information, visit the mayor's web site at


Office of the Mayor

Back to News Release Home Page and News Release Search