About Graham Fire & Rescue

Graham Fire & Rescue protects 70 square miles of unincorporated south central Pierce County and serves roughly 70,000 individuals. Firefighters and paramedics respond to nearly 8,000 emergency calls per year from five 24/7 staffed stations and one respond-from-home volunteer station.

Since 2012, the fire district has experienced rapid growth in both population and demand for emergency services; 35.7% increase in call volume and 23.7% increase in population.

While the fire district provides a full spectrum of fire suppression and life safety services, emergency medical services account for roughly 72% of all emergency calls. Since 2018, we’ve experienced a 19% increase in advanced life support (ALS) calls and a 19.25% increase in hospital transports. In 2022, ALS incidents accounted for 45% of our total call volume.

Graham Fire & Rescue is adjusting to keep up with the increased demand for emergency medical services, including hiring additional firefighter paramedics and purchasing new medic units.

In addition, Graham Fire & Rescue is partnering with Central Pierce Fire & Rescue to provide Community Assistance, Referral and Education Services (CARES) to community members. This program, called FD CARES, focuses on assisting community members with medical issues before medical issues become emergencies. The program works to improve the quality of health throughout our community by connecting citizens with resources that will help them navigate the healthcare system.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Emergency Medical Services (EMS) levy?

The EMS levy funds expenses related to the delivery of emergency medical care, including personnel costs, training, equipment, supplies, and apparatus. However, EMS expenses exceed the revenue collected through the EMS levy, and are supplemented by the fire levy, benefit charge, and other miscellaneous revenue sources.

The EMS levy is not a new tax for Graham Fire & Rescue. Voters approved a permanent EMS levy in 2016. Graham Fire & Rescue currently collects $0.39 per $1,000 assessed valuation and is looking to restore the EMS levy to $0.50 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

Why did the levy rate drop?

Levy rates fall as property values increase due to the impacts of the limit factor in RCW 84.55, which caps fire districts to the same amount of revenue per year plus a limit of a 1% increase and new construction. The amount collected by the fire district is not keeping up with the cost of inflation.

Graham Fire & Rescue currently collects $0.39 per $1,000 assessed valuation. The falling EMS levy rate has caused a reduction of approximately $1.3 million per year in revenue from this levy.

What is the impact to property owners?

If voters pass the proposed levy lid lift and restore the levy to the original $0.50 per $1,000 assessed valuation, average property owners (based on an average house value of $483,497) would pay approximately an additional $4.43 per month, or around $53.19 per year, in 2024 compared to 2023 to maintain 24-hour emergency medical services (not including changes caused by increases or decreases in assessed valuation).

If voters do not pass the proposed levy lid lift, the EMS levy rate will continue to drop, further reducing the revenues the District receives in the amount of at least $1.3 million per year. The reduction in revenues could have a long term impact on Graham Fire & Rescue’s ability to recruit and retain paramedics, replace medic units, purchase EMS equipment and supplies, and maintain service levels as EMS related incidents increase.

What EMS services does Graham Fire & Rescue provide?

Graham Fire & Rescue provides a full range of emergency medical services including responses to cardiac arrest, stroke, traumatic injury, seizure, abdominal pain, respiratory distress, behavioral/psychiatric disorder, allergic reaction, and hospital transports.

As a reminder, citizens residing in Graham Fire & Rescue’s district are not billed personally for transport services above what insurance coverage provides, which translates to no out-of-pocket expenses for our citizens. 

What will the EMS Levy Lid Lift Fund?

The EMS levy lid lift is necessary in order to maintain emergency medical service levels for our residents and businesses. The EMS levy supports:

  • Paramedic recruitment and retention
  • Paramedic training
  • EMS equipment
  • EMS apparatus
  • EMS supplies
  • FD CARES (Community Assistance, Referral and Education Services)
  • No out-of-pocket costs for citizen transports

How can I learn more?

For more information or additional questions, please email EMSLevy@GrahamFire.org. (Our response email may be routed to your junk/spam folder. Please add us as a “safe sender” in your junk/spam folder settings in order to receive our emails)

Documents & Resources