We the commissioners at Klickitat County Fire District 3 (KCFD3) are disappointed by the false accusations made about the fire district in the recent Under Canvas hearings.

The fire services in Klickitat County are volunteer and every department is committed to delivering the best service it can with the financial resources available. We consider the negative statements made at the hearings as a direct insult to each person who chooses to volunteer to provide fire protection services whether at KCFD3, Trout Lake, White Salmon, Bingen or Underwood.

We take great pride in the KCFD3 organization as having a competent, knowledgeable, qualified, trained, professional full time chief and staff. We also have a dedicated, trained, active cadre of volunteers donating their time to training and response to fire and EMS emergencies. Currently 100% of our staff are wildland trained and 50% are EMS qualified.

KCFD3 has established goals and objectives that were defined years ago with review and input from its citizens via a Community Task Force of district residents. These goals and objectives are under continual review with the intent of always moving forward to improve services in the fire district and southwestern Klickitat County while meeting our Task Force mandate of delivering services with a regional view. This includes such things as direct dialog with the Washington Department of Natural Resources for a joint use facility agreement at station 31 in Husum that would save both local and state tax dollars while keeping critical wildland fire fighting resources in our area.

The fire district’s role is to protect life and property. KCFD3 continually seeks to meet that mandate and improve its capabilities. In addition to maintaining an adequate volunteer fire fighting force, this effort includes providing fire prevention services, evaluation of response times and improving the Washington Survey and Ratings Bureau property protection class, which impact resident’s insurance premiums. This is accomplished while navigating community growth, the ever-increasing financial requirements of district operations and a declining tax rate that has fallen from $0.92 cents per thousand to $.73 per thousand and continues to decline.

We understand the Under Canvas Project is a contested issue in the community. However, to publicly portray the chief, staff, or our volunteers as inadequate, that we are meeting in back rooms cutting deals, that we only respond to 50% of the calls, that our volunteers are untrained and cannot address wildfire or other emergencies is blatantly false.

These attacks on the fire district, its staff, and volunteers are without factual basis. Our people are responding when they are called, providing excellent, timely professional fire and EMS services. The commissioner meetings are open to the public. Attendance is encouraged. All are welcome to join in our efforts to provide responsible, well thought out and economically sound decisions for the delivery of fire services. Come in and see what your fire district is doing.

We are an open book.

Thomas Montag, Board Chair; Robert Connor, Commissioner; Charles Virts, Commissioner

Klickitat County Fire District 3