West Thurston Regional Fire Authority (RFA) is comprised of two fire districts (Rochester/Grand
Mound #1, and Littlerock #11), and is funded primarily through a combined Regular (non-voted)
and Maintenance & Operations (M&O) Levy (voted) funding mechanism. These funds enable the
RFA, which is the largest geographical and primarily rural fire department in the county, to provide
services comparable to city departments. The two West Thurston districts are rated amongst the
best of any non-city fire departments in the region, with a Public Protection Classification (PPC) of
Four (4), which is equal to the bordering city of Tumwater. The improved PPC rating means
that property owners save money on fire insurance premiums. However, the real value to the
citizens is adequate numbers of well trained and equipped firefighter/emergency medical
personnel arriving timely to the emergency.
The Regular and M& O tax revenue is utilized to fund the delivery of Emergency Medical, Rescue,
Wildland and Structural Fire Suppression Services. The revenue also funds investigation,
prevention, and public education services. The RFA utilizes these funds to pay firefighter and EMT
wages and benefits, uniforms, personal protective equipment, facility and apparatus maintenance,
fuel and energy costs and all other supplies or goods and services. Some of the revenue is also used to replace fire engines, aid units, and incident command apparatus and equipment.
Because of statutory limitations on Regular Property Tax levy, the amount of regular tax levied
per assessed $1000 decreases as property values increase, thereby saving property owners taxes
as their property values go up.
The Maintenance & Operations (M&O) levy is voted on by the district citizens, and is necessary
to supplement the Regular Property tax revenue and ensure continued effective and efficient
operations of the department. In 2015, community representatives formed the Citizens' Advisory
Committee , and advised the RFA to implement the M&O funding option as a means to prevent
firefighter layoffs and to maintain service delivery. The Advisory committee recommended the
RFA "..seek adequate revenue to staff all the staff-able fire stations (more boots on the ground)"
and maintain or improve service delivery and response times. In 2016 and 2019, voters in each
fire district (#1 and #11) approved a three-year M&O levy. By the end of 2017, the RFA improved
emergency service delivery by staffing 4-5 fire stations on a more regular basis, and improving
emergency response times, thanks to voter support of the M&O levy.
A third funding option is a Bond Levy voted on by the district citizens for a specific purpose such
as purchasing equipment or constructing facilities. District #1's bond was paid off in 2020; District #11's bond will be paid off in 2025.
The RFA is funded almost entirely by the residents and business owners who are located within
the emergency response zone, and receives no established Federal, State or county funding. A
minor percentage of revenue is received from State and Federal grant funding and through patient transport revenue. EMS levy dollars collected by Thurston County Medic One (in accordance with 84.52.069) remain primarily with Medic One; a small amount is passed through to the department.