The City Council took its final budget vote today, and money for added Seattle Fire resources in our area made the final cut. Shortly after the West Seattle Bridge closure in 2020, SFD took Ladder 13 and Medic 26 out of its reserves and stationed them – along with the personnel to staff them – in West Seattle and South Park, respectively. That doubled our area’s allocation of each of those types of units; previously, if a big call, or pverlapping calls, required more than 1 ladder truck or medic unit to respond to this area, the second one had to come from another part of the city. The council news release about today’s budget vote says the two units responded to more than 2,000 calls last year alone, The argument for keeping them beyond the reopening of the bridge was improving response times for the southernmost areas of the city – without the added medic unit based at Station 26 in South Park, medic response times could triple, and without the added ladder truck based at Station 37 in Sunrise Heights, response times to southernmost West Seattle could double.
Mayor Bruce Harrell‘s budget proposal did not include money for keeping the units here; West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold pushed to add it, and got her amendment all the way through the budget review process. It allots $4.7 million in 2023 and $5.6 million in 2024 for the personnel and equipment costs. The documents say extra spending would be needed after that because Ladder 13 and Medic 26 were summoned into service “beyond their replacement age” – the medic unit will be replaced in late 2024, the truck a year later. The budget has one more step for final approval – the mayor can sign it, veto it, or let it become law without his signature. His post-vote statement suggests he’s OK with it.