Firefighters on the Key Peninsula are asking for the public to vote on a levy to staff a largely-unmanned fire station. If not, Key Peninsula Fire Department Chief Tom Lique said more homes will burn to the ground.
"Every time the 911 call comes out for a house fire, the probability that your house will burn to the ground is a real problem for us," Lique said.
Key Peninsula’s few permanent firefighters are spread thin across 65-square-miles. According to Lique, crews need a minimum of six to eight people to fight fires. But many times they have to make do with only two people, and wait until support crews from Gig Harbor can arrive.
"When we're waiting 20-30 minutes for adequate staffing for a house fire, that's one of the reasons we're at the top of the dollar losses for Pierce County," Lique said. "If your house catches fire flames will consume your home."
To compound the problem, Lique said, Key Peninsula has found less and less volunteer firefighters over the past couple of years.
The board of fire commissioners is asking taxpayers to vote for a four-year property tax levy in November to fund eight full-time firefighters. The levy rate would begin at 44 cents per $1,000 of property valuation.
But a tax hike isn't going over too well with many area residents. Rebecca Robert, a lifelong resident of the Key Peninsula, said she'll vote no because of the tough economic times.
"I'm voting against the levy because I live on a waterfront property and it's very difficult to pay taxes, so anything I can eliminate, I try to eliminate," she said.
She said paid staff is a deterrent against volunteers.
"I know that they ask for volunteers, but with all of the paid staff it feels like they're not important," she said.
The levy requires a 60 percent supermajority to pass.
Q13 FOX News Reporter
4:12 p.m. PDT, October 23, 2012