Yakima City Council votes against joining Regional Fire Authority

Yakima City Council votes against joining Regional Fire Authority »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- “We end our study and not move forward with the RFA with the Yakima City Council," said Yakima Mayor, Micah Cawley.

With that, Yakima ended its two-year journey by deciding against joining a Regional Fire Authority after 22 study sessions.

"This isn't a total failure. We're going to take the info we learned and build on that,” said Yakima Fire Chief, Dave Willson. ”We're going to find out, we're going to try to come up with option C and option D."

The Regional Fire Authority would have created an umbrella department that covered Yakima, Union Gap as well as Fire Districts 10 and 11. The RFA work group's final report indicated the new department would be feasible here. But, some Yakima leaders didn't like the idea of raising new taxes and fees to pay for it. City Council Member Bill Lover said Yakima is not ready to handle the costs right now.

"Is that the way we're going to go in the future?” asked Bill. “Maybe, but I don't think we're there yet."

Neighbors like Gaylord Vannattan think the Yakima Fire Department will work better on its own. He worried about firefighters being stretched too thin.

"I don't think we should sacrifice response times to Yakima so they can get involved with Union Gap," said Gaylord.

Some city council members also opposed joining the authority without including West Valley. But, West Valley opted out of the plan early on.

"If you're going to go to that type of system, it's got to be a lot bigger,” said Bill. “If we didn't include West Valley, I thought we would shorten ourselves."

For now nothing changes, but the concept of a regional fire authority could be revisited in a few years.