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Fire Benefit Charge

Questions? See if they are already answered in our frequently asked questions section.

A portion of the Valley Regional Fire Authority's funding comes from the voter approved Fire Benefit Charge (FBC). The FBC is applied to individual properties based on square footage, occupancy type, and required fire protection resources for the structures existing on the property. By statute an FBC may be collected in an amount up to 60% of the total operating budget for the VRFA. The FBC for 2019 has been set at 52.1% of the total operating budget. The current FBC was approved by voters in February 2018. Renewal of the FBC is required every 6 years.

2019 $13,800,000 52.1%

Use the calculator to approximate your FBC for 2019.

If you own a multi-family property with more than four units, please call us for assistance.

Square Feet
Category Factors (CF)
Senior Discount? No    Yes
Sprinkler System Discount? No    Yes

VRFA Fire Benefit Charge (FBC)

The basis for FBC assessments used or favored by most fire jurisdictions that have considered them is "required fire flow". The principle is that the basic unit of public fire service is delivery of water to the fire. Fire flow increases with fire load, a determination that accounts primarily for building construction type, use type and size (total area). Therefore, the VRFA Governance Board has adopted the following fire flow based formula for the calculation of the fire benefit charge.

SQRT(Square Feet) * 18 * CF * CPG * BF * Senior or Sprinkler Disc. = FBC
Example: 2500 Square foot single family structure.
SQRT 2500 * 18 * 1.0 * 45.77 * 0.00916056607= $377.35 approximate FBC for 2019

This is an Insurance Services Office (ISO) formula for determining required fire flow (Ref: NFPA Handbook, 18th Ed., Ch 6, Water Flow Requirements for Fire Protection). The VRFA used a Construction Type factor of "1" due to the variety of construction types in the Fire Authority and the inability to accurately determine the construction type for every structure from existing County database information. Therefore, since Construction Type is equal to "1", we have not displayed this factor within the FBC formula itself.

Category Factors (CF)

Mobile Home = 0.8
Single Family = 1.0

Commercial 1 = 1.0 < 4, 000 sq. ft.
Commercial 2 = 3.0 < 10,000 sq. ft.
Commercial 3 = 4.5 < 30,000 sq. ft.
Commercial 4 = 6.5 <100,000 sq. ft.
Commercial 5 = 8.0 <200,000 sq. ft.
Commercial 6 = 10.0 >200,000 sq. ft.

Categories are "Use Type" groups. Use Type information is obtained from the County Database for each property subject to the FBC. Each Category Factor is a weighted value and is determined by evaluating the relative "fire benefit" provided to the category of structures. The benefit to each category of structure, is proportional to the total square feet of improvements and the Fire Authority Cost Per Gallon (CPG) factor:

The Cost Per Gallon (CPG) is determined by dividing the total Supplemental Operating funds needed (Total FBC) by the Total Fire Flow (SQRT(totsqft)*18) of the total VRFA structures.
(TotFBC/TotFF) = CPG (VRFA CPG is 45.77)

Balancing Factor (BF): (VRFA BF is 0.00916056607 for 2019)
The Balancing Factor is used as an adjustable multiplier to finely tune the FBC calculation to reach precisely the desired target FBC amount.

Senior Citizen Discount:
Seniors are eligible for the same discount rate they receive for regular property taxes. This information is obtained from, and maintained by, County property and tax records.

Sprinkler System Discount: (10%)
A Commercial building with a full coverage sprinkler system will receive a ten percent (10%) FBC discount. Partial coverage systems are considered on a case-by-case basis but will normally be proportional to the total area of the building subject to the fire protection system.

Minimum Square Footage:
The FBC will not be applied to parcels with a total improvement square footage of less than 400 sq. ft.

Mobile Homes:
King County does not adequately maintain square feet data for mobile homes. Since the FBC formula is based upon building square footage, the VRFA Governance Board determined the most practical means was to consider the average mobile home square footage and apply it to each mobile home that is identified by the county tax records as a permanent structure. They determined the average mobile home size to be 1500 square feet.

Decks and Porches:
The square footage for decks and porches are not included in the total improvement square footage for the parcel. The information is not applied consistently by the County and creates many more appeals than the benefit of trying to include them.

Formula Application:
The formula is applied uniformly to all parcels except for Multi-Family parcels where the parcel square footage is divided by the number of apartment units within the parcel to determine the average square footage per unit. That resulting average is inserted in the formula thereby determining the "average" FBC for each unit. That figure is then multiplied by the number of units within the parcel to produce the total FBC for that parcel.

Appeals and Hearings

The VRFA is required by RCW 52.18.070 to conduct a review board hearing for at least two weeks after notice of the charge (FBC) has been sent to property owners. This period will run from January 14th, 2019 through January 28th, 2019. A hearing date of January 31, 2019 has been established by the VRFA. The formal hearing will take place at Fire Station 31 starting at 5:00 P.M. Persons requesting a hearing on their FBC need not be present for the hearing provided all the appropriate forms and information are submitted to the VRFA. For additional information of how to appeal or review your FBC call (253) 288-5800.

FBC Appeal Form

©2018 Valley Regional Fire Authority

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