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Published on Friday, February 14, 2014

The following bills related to establishing regional fire protection authorities and first responders dealing with life-alert systems

HB 1654 and SB 5520 establish a regional fire protection authority option for cities. Currently adjacent fire protection jurisdictions can form an authority (Authority), often creating an overall cost savings. This bill would allow a single city to create an Authority. The city may certify the plan to a ballot for a vote of the people. Proponent’s state there is a possibility to lower property tax because the Authority would levy a benefit charge. Opponents state that cities already have this option and an Authority is for providing regional fire service to consolidated jurisdictions.

HB 1654 passed the House and moved to the Senate late in the evening on Thursday, February 13. SB 5520 remains in Senate Rules Committee.

SSB 6554 Introduced by Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-Orcas Island) in response to a telephone/communications outage situation over the course of 13 days in November of 2013. The outage impacted emergency and medical alert calls. The intent of the bill is to make sure life alert communicates the location of any call with first responders without concerns over liability. However, there are possible concerns over some of the language in the bill in regards to records destruction requirements for information received by the life alert service, and a provision where a fire department could get a civil infraction for failing to destroy that information. The bill is awaiting action in the Senate Rules Committee.

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