Sammamish Maintains Partnership With Eastside, WA Local
February 18, 2014 – After almost a two-year battle between the City of
Sammamish, Washington, and Eastside Local 2878 members, the City has agreed, by
a vote of 5-2, to maintain its service agreement with Eastside Fire and Rescue
for seven more years.
“With support of the City’s citizens, the right decision was made here,” says
Local 2878 President Jon Wiseman. “We work hard to ensure the safety of not just
the 58,000 people in Sammamish, but also to thousands more who live in four
other King County fire taxing districts.”
In 2012, the City began signaling that it wanted out of the regional contract it
shares with Issaquah, North Bend and Fire Districts 10 and 38, and
unincorporated areas of King County. Some Council members wanted more control
over the cost of emergency service and believed service would be cheaper if the
City went out its own.
Local 2878 leaders met with Sammamish City Council members as soon as they
sensed discontent from the City administration.
At first, the City claimed that it was not actively considering separation from
the regional agreement, but on further investigation, Local 2878 members learned
that the city manager and others were actively discussing it.
In response, Eastside Local 2878 launched a public relations campaign to let
people know that the City was making decisions about emergency service without
input from the fire fighters.
“We discovered that there were a lot of people who supported us and did not want
a change and probable reduction in service,” says Wiseman. “As soon as they
heard, they packed three City Council meetings to speak out against separation.”
Meanwhile, City leaders tried to make reassurances that separating from its
agreement with Eastside Fire and Rescue would not reduce the level of service.
Accordingly, they created a Technical Advisory Board and hired an outside
consultant to assess emergency service needs. The study concluded that public
safety would not be jeopardized.
“Most departments of comparable size cost $1 to $2 million more than the City
was paying for our service,” says Wiseman. “To meet the City’s goal of cost
reduction, we knew it could only be done by cutting staff and resources, a clear
public safety risk.”
In the end, the Sammamish City Council listened to the voice of reason from
Local 2878 and the public. As part of the new agreement, the City was able to
negotiate a new payment system that will save the City more than $400,000
The new agreement begins January 1, 2015.