In an effort to provide better service to residents, Mason County Fire Districts 9 and 16 are proposing to merge and form West Mason Fire and Rescue. The Commissioners from both districts held a joint meeting Tuesday night at Fire District 9’s Station 9-2.
Fire District 9’s service area is north of Highway 102 (Dayton Airport Road) to just south of Potlatch and includes Webb Hill, the Skokomish Valley, Eells Hill and the Skokomish Reservation. Fire District 16 is west of Shelton to just east of Lake Nahwatzel and includes Dayton, Hanks Lake, Panhandle Lake, Shelton Valley and the Washington Corrections Center. And the Districts share a border: southern border for District 9; northern border for District 16.
The proposal has Fire District 9 merging into Fire District 16 and could mean an increase in District 9’s EMS levy to match District 16’s levy rate. The merger would also solidify an existing partnership between the districts which has allowed for shared resources and personnel since early 2017. Currently, District 16 personnel are residing in a District 9 station and responding to calls in both districts.
MasonWebTV Powered by HCC asked District 16 Chief Matthew Welander what the merger would accomplish.
There are two ways to merge: by petition or election. A petition would require 60 percent of District 9 registered voters’ signatures. An election, likely set for the November General Election, would need 60 percent approval. According to Welander, the petition is the most cost effective option and allows direct conversations with taxpayers.
The Fire Districts have formed a merger planning committee which is working out the administrative, operational, and financial details of the merger. Official action by the Districts’ Commissions has yet to occur as the Fire Commissioners and Fire Chiefs would like to hear feedback from citizens.