With the ever changing economy and property values consistently on the move, Lake Stevens Fire wanted to take a look at their Strategic Plan, which was originally written in 2005 and updated in 2007.
The current plan has been tweaked to ensure that it is revisited often and will be able to change as the community and the economy change.
“This is the second full plan that we’ve done and we will continue to look at it every three years,” Lake Stevens Fire Chief Dave Lingenfelter said. “It’s designed to be a more dynamic, living document.”
The Strategic Plan is a 43-page document that not only identifies the needs of the district and the community they represent but it also takes a look at what types of services are offered and where those services are taking place.
The plan is very specific in its criteria and instruction as to how those items will be accomplished and by whom. The plan highlights the following criteria:
Decision Based Criteria:
1. How does it address the community and departmental safety?
2. How does it improve operational efficiency?
3. What alternatives have been considered?
4. Is the cost justified, with funding available, and is it sustainable?
5. How does it reflect the needs of the community?
6. With which objective is it aligned within our Strategic Plan?
7. Is it transparent to department members, community members, and the Board of Commissioners?
When the original plan was created in 2005 property values were higher and now have declined. LSF has had to look at other resources by seeking additional funding through grants, currently over $750,000 worth, and to create partnerships to help share costs of such expenses as billing, IT services and public education, to name a few.
“It’s like having goals for the future. We plan based on population and station locations,” Lingenfelter explained. “We are focusing more on partnerships now. They’re becoming very important and will become even more important in the future. Anytime we can share resources, it’s better economically.”
Updating the plan took time and hours of cooperation from those within the district as well as two public meetings and another with the board of commissioners.
“It took us the better part of a year,” Lingenfelter said. “The next thing we’ll do is to sit down with the core group and review it and we will continue reevaluating to see where we are.”
Lake Stevens Fire responds to an average of 4,300 calls per year, with almost 75 percent of those calls being EMS type calls. Fire response calls take up only six percent and other calls such as false and service calls are 21 percent of the district’s calls.
The district has three stations including one in Frontier Village (Station 82), downtown (Station 81) and off of Machias Rd. (Station 83). With the growth going on in the south end of the district, they would like to see one built near Cavelero Mid High School some day as well. Another reason the continuity of the Strategic Plan is important.
The concern right now is the funding of the district’s need in the future.
“Right now we don’t have the money to build a new station. In 2013 we will be living off of strategic funding if assessed values don’t go up,” Lingenfelter explained. “The message about strategic planning is that we are paying attention to what’s going on out there. We have to ensure that our services don’t change.”
Currently the Fire District works within the Lake Stevens School District through the Risk Watch Program and helps teach seniors how to prevent falls but they want to take all opportunities given them to immerse themselves in their community.
They do this by hosting a firefighters vs. police softball game each year, sponsor the annual Health & Safety Fair, take part in Aquafest and Oktoberfest, National Night Out and Downtown Safe Halloween.
“Our commitment to being ‘out there’ is bigger than ever. I am a firm believer in being a member of the community,” Lingenfelter said.
Lake Stevens Fire was formed in the 1940s as a water tank in Rucker Mill. Throughout the decades it has grown into a three station operation with a community conference center and administration building helping thousands of residents throughout Lake Stevens and beyond.
If you would like to read the plan visit www.lsfire.org.