Firefighters in Renton kept the fires back, and took some steps to improve their services last year.
Renton Regional Fire Authority (RFA) has released their 2018 report, detailing the numbers and ratings of the services they’ve offered to Renton, and what they accomplished with their $37.7 million operating budget.
The Public Protection Class rating was upgraded from a class three to a class two in 2018, putting the fire authority in the top 5 percent of fire and life safety agencies in the U.S.
This factors into insurance premiums and means property owners saw savings in their insurance premiums for 2019, according to the report.
Renton RFA credits the upgraded rating to its creation, when voters agreed to separate the fire authority from the city in 2016.
Being able to get the funding needed to improve their resources from the Renton RFA Governance Board helped offer higher property fire protections, Fire Chief Rick Marshall stated in the report.
The property tax rate for Renton homeowners increased when the Renton Regional Fire Authority separated its taxing from the city. In 2018, the fire authority tax rate was increased at $100 per $100,000 of assessed value, as well as a fire benefit charge related to the size of the building and hazards associated with it.
The Renton RFA also completely separated from the City of Renton finance department, and moved its offices out of city hall and into Fire Station 13, the final moves for the Renton RFA going out on its own.
“While leasing space was an option, how we utilize taxpayer funds to maximize our value to the community is always at the forefront,” Marshall stated in his message in the fire report. “By strategizing around out existing space, our long-term savings potential is significant.”
The 2018 year also included the fast construction, equipping and staffing of Fire Station 15, which will service the Kennydale area and parts of Interstate 405. Twelve new firefighters also started training for Renton RFA.
Renton RFA responded to 22,840 calls in 2018.
The fire station had an almost 400 more responses over 2017, but the distribution between fire stations was roughly the same. This year, Fire Station 11, in downtown Renton handled 26 percent of the responses, with fire stations 12 and 13 coming in second both at around 20 percent.
About 5 percent of calls were responded to by someone out of the area.
Of those responses, 70 percent were emergency medical incidents, or 15,981 incidents. The second highest call was false alarms, at 11 percent, or 2,552 calls. Fires were only 6 percent of incidents, or 1,464.
Over half of the fires in 2018 were either structure fires, 37 percent, or brush fires, 24 percent.
Investigations of fires increased in 2018, and the report states this was due to training.
Fire Marshall Anjela Barton stated in an email that as three Deputy Fire Marshalls had just completed certification training, they wanted to provide more hands-on opportunities, which meant investigating fires they wouldn’t normally investigate.
About 13 new employees started with Renton RFA, one a public educator, and 16 employees either retired or separated.
More information on the 2018 annual report, as well as 2017 and 2016, is available at rentonrfa.com/annual-reports.