Helland stresses experience, commitment to fire district

Stressing experience and a desire to help lead Island County Fire District 3 to its next level, Mike Helland is seeking re-election to the district’s board of commissioners.

The Clinton resident has a long record with the district, serving as one of its three commissioners for the past six years. Prior to that, he served with the district as a volunteer firefighter.

“The district has taken great strides the past few years,” Helland said.

Helland, 47, credits the district’s volunteers and paid staff, “who have worked so hard to bring the district to this point.”

Helland says he is committed to the fire district’s continuous improvement, and “its my way of giving back to my community.”

During Helland’s watch, a new fire chief — Don Smith — was hired, two new stations were built, one station was remodeled and a high school firefighter program was started.

And none of this has put the district in debt, he notes.

“The new stations at Freeland and Saratoga and the remodel at the Clinton Station are all paid for,” he said. “We did not have to float a levy to accomplish this.”

He said he believes the district is “in step” with the community, providing value and service to its residents.

Looking toward the future, Helland said improving emergency response time is an area the district will be addressing. One way to get firefighters and emergency medical technicians to an emergency faster will be to provide overnight accommodations at the district’s stations. This could happen any time, as the district included sleeping rooms in the new Freeland station and has made provisions for them at the Clinton station.

Even so, getting better fire and medical responses may be a more complicated and expensive issue than just offering a few bunks, at least to Helland’s mind.

“But there are issues to consider before this would be considered, such as do we staff with volunteers or paid personnel,” he said. “Oversight is an issue. I would not support something that could be a liability to the taxpayers.”

Helland credits outgoing Chief Don Smith with much of the growth and success of the district to date.

District commissioners have contracted with a head hunting firm to hire a replacement for Smith. The new chief is expected to be on the job early next year.

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