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Three Whatcom County fire districts seek additional funds from voters

Fire District 1 is seeking a $13M bond, while Fire District 17 and Fire District 21 seek levy increases

Whatcom County Fire District 1's existing Station 81, located at 101 E. Main St. in Everson. The district is placing a bond on the August ballot to rebuild its station. (Photo courtesy of Whatcom County Fire District 1 Facebook)
By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

This election reporting is provided free to all readers as a public service by your locally owned Cascadia Daily News. Thanks for supporting truly local news by donating to CDN or subscribing here.

Three Whatcom County fire districts are seeking extra tax dollars from voters to rebuild their stations and boost their operations. 

Fire District 1, which serves Everson, Nooksack, Deming and the Nooksack Indian Tribe, is seeking a $13 million bond to fund the construction of a new station, while Fire District 17 in Sandy Point is asking for a levy increase to rebuild the district’s fire station and hire paid staff. Fire District 21, also known as North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, is also seeking a levy increase to handle an increase in EMS calls and replace a station and equipment.

Fire District 1 

Fire District 1 Assistant Fire Chief Greg Macy said the existing Everson station lacks space and sleeping quarters for firefighters. It also sits on a flood plain, on unstable soil, Macy said. 

A new station, to be located on Everson Goshen Road, would provide space for community activities, meetings and educational programs, sleeping quarters for firefighters, and would also serve as an Emergency Operations Center in case of a disaster. 

The proposed tax rate for the bond is 39 cents per $1,000 in assessed value — about $195 a year for a home valued at $500,000. Bond funds will be used to design, construct and equip the new fire station. 

The lack of sleeping space in the current station means firefighters currently sleep in the Nugent’s Corner station — often increasing response time when they get overnight calls, Macy said. 

“Our priority is always the safety and well-being of our residents,” Fire Chief Rachel Carlson said in a Facebook post. “The proposed bond measure will allow us to move out of the floodplain, modernize our infrastructure, and ensure that we continue to deliver high-quality emergency services to our community for years to come.” 

Fire District 17 

Fire District 17 in Sandy Point is re-running a levy increase in the Aug. 6 primary election, after a measure in the April special election failed by just one vote. The measure asks for a levy rate of $1.25 per $1,000 of assessed property value.  


If voters approve the new rate, then in 2025 the annual tax for fire response and emergency medical service on a $580,000 home, which is roughly Whatcom County’s median home value, would increase by $319. 

Coastal floodwaters reached the Fire District 17 station in December 2022. The district is seeking a levy increase in the August election to move its station. (Photo courtesy of Whatcom County Fire District 17)

The tax hike is needed to rebuild the district’s fire station, which was damaged twice by floods in 2022, and came “within inches” of flooding again this January, according to campaign co-chair Jeanne Carroll. If it passes, the district will relocate its station to a plot of land on higher ground, donated by the Phillips 66 refinery. 

The tax hike would also go to hiring paid staff, as Carroll said longtime volunteers are getting older. 

“We’ve got to build funds into the budget in order to hire paid staff,” she said. “Both issues are equally critical. Without a fire station, we can’t provide services locally. Without staff, we can’t provide services either.” 

Fire District 21

Fire District 21, also known as North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, is seeking approval of a tax levy lid lift of 34 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value to $1.10. An owner of a $500,000 home would pay an additional $170 in taxes per year if it passes.

The district serves Lynden, Blaine, Custer, Laurel, Birch Bay and Semiahmoo, and also serves Whatcom County Fire District 4.

The levy increase would allow the district to handle the increase in EMS calls, which now account for 71% of all calls, by funding eight emergency personnel over six years, according to the fire district’s website. The revenue would also pay for a replacement of Station 63 in Birch Bay, a response unit for medical emergencies, a ladder truck and three fire engines.

“At least 30 percent of the time, there are multiple emergencies happening all at once,” Fire Chief
Jason Van der Veen said in a news release. “We aren’t staffed to respond to multiple overlapping calls. The result is longer response times when minutes count.”

[ Read more: North Whatcom Fire and Rescue to host meetings detailing need for tax increase ]

The district is hosting four public meetings to answer questions about the ballot measure:

  • 5:30 p.m. Monday, July 17 at the Blaine Senior Center, 763 G St., Blaine
  • 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 24 at Station 61, 9408 Odell Road, Blaine
  • 5 p.m. Thursday, July 25 at Station 63, 4581 Birch Bay Lynden Road, Blaine
  • 9 a.m. Saturday, July 27 at Laurel Grange, 6172 Guide Meridian Road, Lynden

Charlotte Alden is CDN’s general assignment/enterprise reporter; reach her at charlottealden@cascadiadaily.com; 360-922-3090 ext. 123.

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