Despite getting 52% yes votes, the Benton County Fire District 1 levy was rejected by voters during the primary election this week. A 60% majority was required to pass.

Fire District 1, which has stations in El Rancho Reata, Finley, and headquarters on Arrowhead in Kennewick, serves 320 square miles of the county, including Rancho Reata, Finley, and south Kennewick. They cover unincorporated areas, and those not served by the city itself.

The levy would have provided 2 new ambulance units, which officials said would greatly speed up EMS (non-fire medical issues) response times. Of the 1,516 emergency calls they received in 2017, 55% were EMS related. And of those, 90% required transport of a person or persons to an area hospital.

These units would have greatly decreased response times throughout the district, sometimes when a unit is on a call, and another one comes in, people had have to wait for a Kennewick unit to respond.

Fire District Chief Lonnie E. Click issued the following statement:

I wanted to personally write and thank you for partnering with us to share information about a proposed levy for Emergency Medical Service (EMS) in Benton County Fire District #1. We received a clear majority of the vote at 52%. However, a super majority (60%) was required for the measure to pass.
We could not have done so well if it weren’t for the help of our media allies. And, while the outcome was not what we had hoped for, it was encouraging to see that a majority of our citizens believe that EMS is a valued service they want for their families.
EMS saves lives, and we will continue working for this service level improvement. We will regroup with our Board of Fire Commissioners to determine next steps, and keep you informed as to the progress we make.
  It is not known immediately if officials will try another levy in the near future.


More From 870 AM KFLD