Voter Information Forum, Wednesday, March 29, to focus on proposed Regional Fire Authority


Voters in Olympia and Tumwater are being asked to vote in a special election April 25, on Proposition 1, to decide whether to merge their fire departments and create a new regional fire authority (RFA), one that would have its own elected board and taxing authority.

The League of Women Voters of Thurston County and The JOLT are sponsoring a Voter Information Forum on Wednesday, March 29, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Speakers both for and against Proposition 1 will present and answer questions at the event.

The event is free; up to 80 tickets are available for those who would attend in person at Thurston Community Media, which will broadcast the event live on Comcast Cable channel 77 and on-demand from its website at

Speaking for:

Speakers presenting for the Vote Yes campaign include:

  • Lt. Steven Busz of the Olympia Firefighter Union
  • Donovan Cathey of the Tumwater Firefighter Union
  • Lisa Parshley, Olympia City Councilmember

Here is a link to the Vote Yes for Fire & EMS (Vote Yes) website.

Speaking against:

Speakers who will present their case against the proposition include: 

  • Bob Jacobs, former Olympia Mayor
  • Pat Cole, former Olympia City Councilmember
  • Larry Dzieza, retired state budget manager

Here is a link to the Save Our Fire Departments (Vote No) website.

The cities have been discussing a potential merger of their fire departments since 2019 after a consultant hired by Tumwater recommended it. They formed a committee comprised of city councilmembers and firefighters from both cities and conducted meetings and public hearings throughout 2022 in preparation for votes in January 2023 to present the plan to voters.

The JOLT has published more than 40 news stories and reader opinion pieces -- both for and against -- that mention “regional fire authority” in the past 15 months. Click here to see them all, or type “regional fire authority” into the search window at the top of this page.  


7 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • JulesJames

    In November, in response to sticker shock backlash, the RFA's consultants somehow found an extra 27 million square feet of commercial and Multi-Unit structures to tax - thus diluting everyone else's assessment. The equivalent of 18 Columbia Towers in Thurston County was lost, then found? The RFA is a snake oil scheme that needs to be voted down.

    Friday, March 24, 2023 Report this

  • JW

    JulesJames' comment about the "snake oil scheme" is the type of drama I hope not to see at what should be an informative and lively open forum.

    Saturday, March 25, 2023 Report this

  • waltjorgensen

    Could you provide specific instructions for viewing the proposed RFA* Voter Information Forum on one's computer?

    * Regional Fire Authority, Wednesday, March 29

    Walt Jorgensen

    Monday, March 27, 2023 Report this

  • Honestyandrealityguy

    So the folks voting against have no experience in fire fighting?

    Tuesday, March 28, 2023 Report this

  • Southsoundguy

    Vote no for snake oil.

    Wednesday, March 29, 2023 Report this

  • PCBigLife

    As one of these folks I’d simply point out that we are not being asked how to fight fires; the voters are being asked how to best fund and support our fire departments. And that is an area in which we do happen to have a lot of expertise. We can do so much better than this RFA, so I hope you take some time to look at the reasons we think it is the wrong way to go.

    Wednesday, March 29, 2023 Report this

  • JackJohnston

    The concept of RFA I approve of I cannot support Proposition 1 with its present implementation plan. The problem is clearly stated in RFA consultants' presentation of 5/1/22 to RFA planning group. "We cannot figure out how to explain that to the public that need to pay more to get nothing different". Additional payment by the people of the RFA area must be used to add front line medical/firefighters.

    Wednesday, March 29, 2023 Report this