What you need to know about Propositions 446 & 310
The fire service is built on fighting fires. However, most of what firefighters do is respond to medical emergencies. They are the first to respond when we are our most vulnerable. Just seeing their faces brings a sense of ease and hope in times of crisis, and with that, they bring life-saving skills that are hard to put a price tag on. Just ask anyone whose life was saved or someone who can still wrap their arms around a loved one because of a firefighter.
All first responders, law enforcement officers, paramedics, EMT’s and firefighters deserve our deepest gratitude and respect for their courage and willingness to dedicate their lives for others. These are all noble professions. It’s our responsibility to support them and ensure they have the tools to do their jobs properly and safely.
This is what Propositions 446 and 310 are all about—supporting our firefighters.
Proposition 446 - Pinewood Fire Department Bond Initiative
Prop 446 will build a new firehouse for the Pinewood Fire Department. The current firehouse was built in 1973 and designed to house a maximum of 2 “live-in” firefighters (the department was mostly volunteer). Today, there are 5 to 6 firefighters on staff daily, with inadequate housing and no room to grow. Coconino County is Arizona’s 6th fastest growing county, rising 7.7% in 2021. We should be prepared for growth rather than waiting for it to become a crisis, as it is in many rural areas.
Munds Park isn’t that sleepy little place off the 322 exit anymore. With the influx of short-term rentals, and the pending growth of the RV Park, more people are here. Most visitors are not here for quiet meditation retreats either. They are hiking, biking, off-roading, letting loose and drinking — a lot! This is the population that needs firefighters the most. Don’t forget, too, the new developments in Kachina Village, their increase of short-term rentals, and all the other open land developers have their eyes on. We will need more firefighters and sooner than later. Tomorrow is always here faster than we think.
Our safety isn’t the only concern. We need to keep our first responders safe too. There’s no question that being a firefighter is a dangerous job. But beyond the obvious perils of saving lives, firefighters are 9 percent more likely to get cancer and 14 percent more likely to die from cancer than the average person.
With each wildfire, house fire, or automobile fire, firefighters are exposed to high amounts of carcinogens the entire time they are on the scene. They carry the carcinogens on their person until they can get to the firehouse and decontaminate.
Currently, our firehouse does not allow for proper decontamination. Our firefighters literally have to disrobe in their living quarters and only have two showers. So while two are decontaminating, the others wait in their soiled uniforms, contaminating their living quarters and continuing to breathe in and absorb carcinogens. This is unacceptable.
The new firehouse will provide adequate facilities to support our firefighters, keep them safe, provide state-of-the-art equipment, improve security, and allow for future growth.
For about the cost of one cup of Kota’s specialty coffees per month, you can support your local fire department and feel great about your purchase!
Quick Facts on Prop 446
The Bond is for $4.513 million.
Property owners in Coconino County will pay ~$6.50 per month ($36 per year for each $100,000 of the Assessor’s limited property value. The average ‘limited property value’ for Munds Park FY2023 is $215,500.)
The Bond will sunset 20 years after all the bonds have been sold.
If the Bond passes, depending on the economy, the new firehouse may break ground in the spring of 2024.
PROPOSITION 310 the Arizona Fire District Safety Act
The Pinewood Fire Department is financially well managed, and other than needing a new firehouse, our fire department is in great shape. They have what they need to do their job and do it well. However, when considering voting, understand that most Arizona rural fire districts are in financial crisis.
Why is it important to ensure rural departments are adequately funded? Well, you or your loved ones may be traveling through major roadways connecting Phoenix, Tucson, Kingman, Flagstaff, and Yuma, where the fire districts are strapped for funding and seriously short of firefighters, paramedics, equipment, and training.
Currently, rural fire districts’ response times routinely exceed 30 minutes. You don’t have to be a medical expert to understand the importance of time when someone is seriously injured. Over the last five years, nearly 2,000 people have died in vehicle crashes on Arizona’s rural roads. Another 30,000 have been injured. That’s a lot of people to care for with limited resources.
Wildfires across the state are becoming more challenging for our heroes to fight because the intensity of fires is growing. The fires are more intense and more frequent, demanding even more from firefighters working with fewer resources. Over the last five years, fire districts have helped fight wildfires that have claimed more than 2.2 million acres in our state.
So why are our rural fire departments underfunded?
Unlike cities or municipalities, rural fire districts do not receive funding from Highway User Funds, Transaction Privilege Tax/Sales Tax (State or Local), Vehicle License Tax, or Income Tax. Further, in 2009, the Arizona Legislature capped the ability of rural fire departments to increase property taxes by 5% annually. The financial cap impeded rural fire districts and they simply cannot keep up with the growth of our state.
The caps have resulted in fire station closures and limited staffing, making conditions unsafe for our firefighters, travelers, and for the communities they serve.
Proposition 310 will provide:
Improve emergency response times
Provide critical firefighting, medical equipment and supplies
Provide necessary training
And, crazy as it sounds, keep their starting pay well above minimum wage. Firefighters do have healthcare and a pension plan, which is extremely valuable. However, a firefighter’s income should match their skill and risk.
For only 1¢ for every $10 we spend, we can support our rural heroes, neighbors, and visitors to be safe and even save lives.
Prop 310 is a legislative effort by the Professional Firefighters of Arizona, Arizona Fire Chief’s Association, and Arizona Fire District Association.
Want to learn more?
The Pinewood Fire District will hold an informational meeting on Proposition 446 at the Pinewood Fire Station on October 6 at 6 pm.
Remember, If you wish to vote for Prop 446 and you are not registered in Coconino County, you can change your voting location in order to participate.
Visit servicearizona.com to register to vote.