Bellevue is a growing and diverse city, and with it, more challenges for our firefighters and paramedics to keep us safe during an emergency.
The Bellevue Fire Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that was created to support Bellevue’s firefighters and paramedics by providing additional financial resources for equipment, training, and community engagement programs.
The Bellevue Fire Department provides emergency services to 145,300 residents of Bellevue, and 20,000 residents of Beaux Arts Village, Clyde Hill, Hunts Point, Medina, Newcastle, and Yarrow Point. As Washington’s 5th largest city and the second-largest employment center, the workforce swells the daytime population to 200,000. Critical infrastructure includes a 10-mile stretch of Interstate 405, the Olympic Pipeline (the primary transport mechanism for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel for Seattle and Portland), and the Eastlink light rail and tunnel under construction (to be fully operational in early 2023). Bellevue is culturally diverse: 50% of its population are of a non-White race or ethnicity, 43% speak a language other than English at home, and over 39% were born in a foreign country (2017).
Bellevue currently has nine fire stations with a 10th soon to be constructed, and four advanced life support medic units. Its 266 employees include 220 firefighters, paramedics, and command staff; the remainder comprises support staff – medical services, fire prevention, training, public education, and community risk reduction.
Over the years the Bellevue Fire Department has done a great job providing emergency services while keeping pace with growth and responding to new service expectations and a changing 911 system. The city has had a strong tax base and its residents have been very supportive of evolving public safety needs with bond measures.
A VIBRANT AND FAST-GROWING CITY
Now, and in the coming years, a thriving Bellevue is facing significant population growth, new high-rise office, and residential buildings, and preparing for the arrival of mass transit. While these trends will eventually lead to more tax revenue for the city, the fire department must invest in training and equipment today if it wants to be prepared for an expanded city tomorrow.
Construction activity planned for 2035 is arriving in the next four years, over 10 years faster than predicted. Nearly 17 million total square feet are under construction, in review, or in the pipeline including six 600 foot office buildings (the equivalent of six 60-story buildings).
Budget projections showed that the costs to provide emergency services will outpace revenue collection by 2023. Covid-19 brought that intense budget pressure to the BFD early, so the Bellevue Fire Foundation was created to fill that gap.