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City of Seattle
Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)

SUBJECT: Mayor and Council agree on fire levy proposal

7/21/2003  5:18:00 PM

Fire and Emergency Protection Levy Headed for Ballot
$167 million Levy will improve neighborhood fire stations, emergency facilities

Joined by Seattle City Council members, Mayor Greg Nickels today praised a measure headed for the November ballot he said will make Seattle safer by significantly improving the city's fire and emergency response network.

Nickels and Council members pledged to work toward passage of the Fire and Emergency Protection Levy.

"Our firefighters and paramedics can't respond effectively to today's threats with yesterday's facilities and equipment," said Nickels. "This levy gives voters the opportunity to bring Seattle's fire and emergency response system into the 21st century."

The council passed the levy measure unanimously.

"Once approved by voters, the public will see the benefits of this levy almost immediately. They will see caches of emergency medical and shelter supplies in locations throughout the city," said Jan Drago, chair of the council's finance, budget, business and labor committee.

Jim Compton, chair of the council's police, fire, courts and technology committee, said this was the right package for the voters. "It's lean and reasonable, and I'm very proud to have been part of the process to write this package," said Compton.

Nickels introduced a comprehensive proposal last spring. Since then, the mayor and City Council have worked toward agreement about the measure. The final Levy calls for a nine-year, $167.2 million measure. It would cost owners of a $313,500 home an average of $73 per year over the nine years of the levy.

"I support this plan enthusiastically, because it achieves the goal of providing seismically sound fire stations and safe working conditions for our firefighters," said Seattle Fire Chief Gary Morris.

The Levy would fund work on stations throughout the city, turning them into modern, seismically secure facilities with expanded space for emergency response vehicles and equipment. Twelve stations would be replaced and 20 stations would be renovated or remodeled.

The levy would also fund a number of emergency preparedness initiatives to protect citizens during earthquakes and other disasters. The plan would:

  • Place Red Cross community caches of emergency medical and shelter supplies in four strategic locations throughout Seattle to ensure that areas isolated during an earthquake due to damaged bridges or roadways would have supplies.
  • Portable generators would also be distributed to shelters to provide emergency power.
  • An emergency fire hydrant system that could draw water from Lake Union, Lake Washington, Puget Sound and the city's reservoirs in the event that water mains and the existing hydrant system failed due to seismic or other events. Following the Loma Prieta and Kobe earthquakes, fires caused additional destruction because firefighters were unable to use damaged hydrant systems.
  • A new emergency operations center would be built in a seismically stable area and able to withstand severe earthquakes and other disasters. This would allow fire and emergency services to continue operating during major crises.
  • Improve marine safety and fire response by purchasing a new fireboat for Elliott Bay that could pump 20,000 gallons of water per minute and travel at speeds up to 14 knots. The existing fireboat Chief Seattle would be renovated to improve its firefighting capabilities and moved to a freshwater location to replace the 78 year-old fireboat Alki. The city would also acquire a "fast attack" boat to provide speed and agility to respond to marine emergencies, as well as back-up firefighting coverage when one of the other fireboats is in dry dock for annual maintenance.
  • Construction of a training facility in southwest Seattle that would include a burn tower and collapsed building props for lifelike drills and exercises, as well as classrooms and support facilities for firefighter training. The new center would allow consolidation of all major training programs at one location in Seattle, saving time and resources now spent on traveling to facilities outside the city.
  • Replace the existing Fire Alarm Center with a new facility co-located with a new Fire Station 10 near Pioneer Square. The new center would be larger than the current facility in Belltown and would be seismically safe.

"Every neighborhood deserves a modern fire station, and Seattle deserves a modern emergency-response network. This fall, Seattle voters will have the opportunity to help us meet these goals, and I am confident they will. We are making Seattle safer," said Nickels.

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

Read the details of the levy headed for the ballot [pdf_119kb]


Office of the Mayor

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