The City Council approved a new Interlocal Agreement, which promotes “seamless emergency response among the fire departments throughout King County.”
In the past, Mercer Island has largely relied on Bellevue’s Fire Department and response systems to help with our city’s larger fire instances, but this new Interlocal Agreement (ILA), will allow for the closest available emergency response unit(s) to respond to 911 calls, “regardless of fire department jurisdiction.” This is a huge enhancement on Mercer Island’s current “mutual aid agreement,” which mainly bring aid from the City of Bellevue because it will allow Mercer island to call on help from the City of Seattle, “which previously required its firefighters to obtain permission to travel outside city limits.”
The City of Mercer Island provides “minimum staffing” to our fire department, which is seven firefighters at any given time. Not only will this newer, enhanced agreement heighten the city’s response times to larger events, such as house or multi-house fires, simultaneous situations, or an active shooter scenario.
For reference, the City of Mercer Island specifies that the ordinary house fire on the island requires 35-42 firefighters and a “typical” multiple casualty incident requires 12 or more firefighters to respond.
With the prime objective of safety on the Island, this seems like a great service to local residents and businesses. Fire Chief, Steve Heitman says, “We expect having this new seamless response system countywide will lead to improved coordination and faster response times, which in turn saves lives.”
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