Located on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, we are geographically very isolated, which means we must be more self-reliant than most fire departments. The Strait of Juan de Fuca’s shoreline defines our northern border, while the Olympic Mountain range establishes the southern border. We serve US Forest Service and National Park land, working farms; multiple pockets of industrial, manufacturing, and commercial districts; high value residential homes, historical buildings; as well as a growing number of housing developments, retirement communities, and elder care facilities.
We cover a diverse 142 square mile area, a 24 mile stretch of US Highway 101, with approximately 80% of our population concentrated within a 25 square mile area; 4.8 square miles within the City of Sequim, 7.8 within the City’s urban growth area and 12.4 square miles within the greater Sequim area. District wide, we serve a total year round population of some 34,000 residents, of which approximately 28,000 live within the 25 square mile greater Sequim area. This gives us two very distinct demographics; the greater Sequim area with an urban population density of greater than 1,100 people per square mile and the remaining area with a rural density of less than 500 people per square mile.
The Sequim-Dungeness Valley is known for being located within a rain shadow created by the Olympic Mountains. Consequently, the area is reputed to be drier than the rest of Western Washington with annual rainfall averaging less than half that of the Seattle area’s typical 17 inches. In part because of the mild Pacific Northwest climate, the Sequim area continues to receive national attention as an ideal place to retire. Approximately 34,000 citizens reside permanently, however our population fluctuates as the resident snow birds migrate south in search of warm winter weather.
As a growing community, we’ve consistently experienced steady growth. As a result, for more than 20 years, our call volume has steadily increased an average of 6% annually. Just in the past ten-years our calls for service have increased 82%. Our biggest growth factor has been the continuous development of multistory apartments and condos, high density residential developments, retirement communities, and elder care facilities. The growth resulting from this attention has helped to establish a stable tax base for supporting fire department operations.
Our 142 square mile Fire District has an assessed property valuation of approximately $4.1 billion. The District receives approximately $1.39 per $1,000 of assessed property value for fire protection taxes and about $0.48 per $1,000 of assessed property value for emergency medical services taxes. These levy rates combine to support an anticipated annual operating budget of approximately $8.2 million for 2017.