The Board of Fire Commissioners at Lacey Fire District 3 huddled in a special workshop Thursday, looking for ways the district might raise its profile and increase community awareness.
The workshop was led by meeting facilitator J. Marie Riche, while the five-member commission — Tom Nelson, Sylvia Roberts, Judy Wilson, Gene Dobry and Frank Kirkbride — listened and provided comments.
Thursday’s gathering was in part inspired by its citizens advisory committee, which asked the commission to do more to get the word out about the district, Nelson said.
“They were pleasantly surprised by all that goes on here,” he said.
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Kirkbride recalled having a conversation with some colleagues, all of whom were frustrated by government and its regulations.
When he mentioned that he knew of a government body that was 100 percent service, they reacted with surprise.
When he told them it was Lacey Fire District 3, they said, “Oh, that’s not government.”
But it is.
The district has taxing authority, an $18 million budget and an elected board that provides oversight and holds public meetings.
It also operates five stations and employs 94 career firefighters. It has a volunteer force of 15-18, Deputy Fire Chief Kathy Dickson said.
“Everybody knows we put out fires and help with medical emergencies, but it’s communicating those other things that we do in the community,” Roberts said.
Riche suggested conducting a telephone survey, organizing a listening tour or coffee klatch throughout the district, or holding an open-house style gathering for the public.
Longtime Lacey resident Ken Balsley, who was in the audience Thursday, suggested a “key communicator” idea, recruiting certain people to study up on the district who would then share that information.
He took the same approach with North Thurston Public Schools years ago when the district struggled to get levy and bond measures approved, Balsley said.
Later, they passed with 80 percent voter support, he said.
He cast doubt on the idea of a bunch of people attending an open-house style meeting — unless they were already familiar with the district.
And he reminded the commissioners that they were elected to get the word out.
“It’s not the staff’s job, it’s your job,” he said.