Heat wave, wildfire season and more car crashes lead to increases
Okanogan County Fire District 6 had its busiest year ever in 2021, according to the district’s annual report.
This district reported 351 “call-outs” responding to 41 different types of incidents — ranging from wildland, structure and vehicle fires to animal rescue — a 10% increase over 2020 and exceeding 2019’s previous high total of 339. Firefighters logged more than 3,771 hours of emergency response time, a 61% increase over 2020.
• The district responded to 19 building-related fires, a 64% increase over 2020, not including chimney fires that added another 12 calls. One structure fire resulted in the complete loss of the building; there was also an RV/home fire that was a complete loss.
• The district had a higher-than-normal call out rate for motor vehicle accidents, with a 9% increase over 2020.
• The wildland fire season resulted in more than 63 wildfire calls, an 11% increase over the previous year.
• June’s heat wave resulted in increased calls for propane tank venting.
• At year’s end the district firefighting staff consisted of five paid firefighters and 43 volunteer firefighters. While the district added 13 new recruits, it also lost eight veteran firefighters.
The fire district covers an area of approximately 300 square miles from Gold Creek to Lost River including all unincorporated areas within its boundary and the communities of Carlton, Twisp, Winthrop and Mazama. District 6 operates out of fire stations in Carlton, Twisp, Winthrop and Mazama.
Twisp, District 6 annexation talks continue
The Town of Twisp and Okanogan County Fire District 6 are continuing their discussions to reach a “pre-annexation agreement” prior to an anticipated vote on whether the town should be annexed to the district.
At last week’s Twisp Town Council meeting, council member Aaron Studen, who represents the council on the Public Safety Committee, reported that the goal is to put an annexation proposal on the ballot this spring or summer.
Voters in both the town and the fire district must approve a proposed annexation. If Twisp is annexed into the fire district’s boundaries, the district’s tax levy will be added to town residents’ property tax bills and the town will no longer pay the district from its municipal funds.
The Town of Winthrop annexed into the fire district in 2017, leaving Twisp as the only town still contracting for protection.
If Twisp becomes part of the fire district, town residents will be eligible to vote in elections affecting Fire District 6 operations, and will be eligible to run for positions on the district’s board of commissioners. Currently, Twisp residents have no direct say in the operation of the fire district.
In 2021, the town renewed its fire protection contract with District 6 for at least one more year, at a cost of $60,000.