Northshore Fire Department and Woodinville Fire & Rescue want to merge into one agency to improve emergency services and save money for taxpayers. Here are some answers to questions that you may have about the proposal.

On April 27, 2021, the voters of Northshore Fire Department will be asked whether to approve a merger with Woodinville Fire & Rescue. Here are some answers to questions that you may have about the proposal.

What’s on my ballot?

Northshore Fire Department is asking voters whether to approve merging with Woodinville Fire & Rescue. The proposal will be on the April 27, 2021 Special Election ballot.

Why is this merger on the ballot?

Many fire agencies in Washington are merging with the goal to be more efficient for taxpayers, residents and businesses.

How will merging impact my property taxes?

An independent financial analysis projects that property taxpayers in both communities will pay less if the agencies merged. Were the agencies merged in 2021, Northshore property owners would have paid an estimated $0.11 less per $1,000 of assessed property value or 8.5% of the effective tax rate. Woodinville Fire property owners would have paid an estimated $0.07 less per $1,000 or 5.6%.

Why are property owners expected to pay less if the merger passes?

Working as one agency ends duplicate administrative and management positions and departments. It also allows for economies of scale in purchasing goods and services. One consolidated agency could share labor resources to reduce overtime costs, which were almost $1.8 million for both agencies last year. Working as one agency is expected to require fewer reserve apparatus, as well.

Is the merger expected to affect BLS transportation fees for Northshore residents?

Yes. Northshore residents currently pay a for-profit private ambulance company for emergency medical transports. Woodinville offers Basic Life Support (BLS) emergency medical transport at no additional cost to the patient. Fire Commissioners for both agencies agree, should the merger be approved by the voters, the new agency would adopt Woodinville’s practice and extend no-cost BLS patient transports to the Northshore service area.

Will emergency service levels be affected?

The Northshore fire stations will remain open with the same number of professional firefighters and apparatus serving your neighborhood. Working as one agency would allow for an additional emergency unit to respond to calls on certain days. This would be possible without the need to increase staffing, and could reduce overtime costs for taxpayers. The merger also is expected to provide additional training opportunities for firefighters and more community engagement and fire prevention programs in local schools.

How are Northshore and Woodinville Fire similar?

Both agencies are strong financially and operationally, approximately the same size, and fund emergency services with a fire levy and fire benefit charge. Northshore and Woodinville also have a successful partnership already, sharing some administrative positions and departments, including Fire Chief, Deputy Fire Chief, Chief Administrative Officer, finance, human resources, and IT.

Are there other fire districts without borders that touch?

Yes. There are four fire agencies in King and Snohomish counties that do not have contiguous borders: South (Snohomish) County Fire, Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue, Eastside Fire & Rescue (King County Fire District 10), and North (Snohomish) County Regional Fire Authority.

What will the new name be?

If the merger is approved, we expect that there will be a public process including emergency personnel and staff to name the new agency. The goal of the new name would be to reflect the combined service areas of both fire districts.

How will the new agency be governed?

If the merger is approved, the new agency would initially be governed by the current five Fire Commissioners from Northshore, and the five from Woodinville. These 10 positions will be reduced through attrition and the election process to a five-member Board of Fire Commissioners by 2026. All citizens of Kenmore, Lake Forest Park, and Woodinville are eligible to run for these positions.

If the merger is approved, what happens to Northshore’s employees?

All employees of the Northshore Fire Department would work for the new agency. Those employees will receive a salary at least equal to the salary given to employees in the same position at Woodinville Fire & Rescue. Firefighters currently covered by the collective bargaining agreement negotiated with IAFF Local 2459 (Northshore) would join the bargaining unit currently represented by IAFF Local 2099 (Woodinville).

Who votes on this proposal?

Because Northshore Fire Department is merging into Woodinville Fire & Rescue, Northshore voters are the ones who vote on this ballot measure.

When will property owners see the new effective tax rate?

The new rate will apply to 2022 property tax statements.

What is an effective tax rate?

An effective tax rate combines taxes that property owners pay for fire service. These amounts are averaged into “cents per $1,000” of assessed property value.

Where can I find more information?

More information can be found on the Northshore website at Interim Fire Chief Greg Ahearn also is available to answer questions at