Per RCW 52.26.180, a portion of the Valley Regional Fire Authority’s funding comes from a voter-approved Fire Benefit Charge (FBC). The FBC reflects the proportional cost of providing necessary fire protection services to each residential and commercial structure within our service area.

Unlike the regular property tax collection which is based solely on assessed property value, the Fire Benefit Charge is applied to individual properties based on:

  • Structural Square Footage
  • Occupancy Type
  • Required Fire Protection Resources for the structures existing on the property

Homeowners effectively pay a lower FBC rate than commercial properties do because the cost of providing critical fire service to commercial properties (i.e. larger structures) is higher than it is for residential properties.

As a result of collecting a separate benefit charge, the maximum property tax collection rate that can be levied is reduced from $1.50/$1,000 to $1.00/$1,000 assessed property value.

Did you know? The 2019 property tax levy will be less than $0.81 per thousand dollars assessed value which is almost 20% below the statutory limit.

Estimate your Fire Benefit Charge

The principle basis used for Fire Benefit Charge assessments is the required fire flow factor. This approach identifies that the basic unit of measuring public fire service is through the physical delivery of water to the fire.

Required fire flow increases with fire load and structural risk—determined by building construction type, use type, and size (total area).

Based on an Insurance Services Organization (ISO) formula, the VRFA Governance Board has adopted the following formula for calculating the Fire Benefit Charge:

Formula Factors

Total sq.ft: Take the square root of total structural square footage on property

18: This is a coefficient tested by the ISO to determine required ‘fire flow’

CF: Category Factor dependent on a structure’s ‘use type’

CPG: Cost Per Gallon of delivering fire service resources to property

BF: Balancing Factor set by the VRFA to finely tune calculation

Discount: Applicable discount per County property assessment

Current Fire Benefit Charge Budget

First approved by voters in 2006, and re-approved in 2012 and 2018, the FBC creates a stable, fair cost-distribution of revenue that continues to support the organization’s emergency response times and service levels for fire protection, medical aid calls, training of personnel, and the purchase of necessary equipment.

The improvements and investments have garnered the VRFA a better fire protection grade, which equates to lower fire insurance rates for many of our residents and businesses. By statute, revenue collected from FBC collected may not exceed 60% of the total operating budget and renewal of the FBC is required every 6 years.

YEAR TOTAL FBC AMOUNT % of VRFA Operating Budget
2019 $13,800,000 52.1%

Appeals & Hearings

The VRFA is required per RCW 52.26.250 to conduct a review board hearing for at least two weeks after notice of the charge (FBC) has been sent to property owners.

A formal hearing will take place at Fire Station 31. 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, send an us an email at