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AGO 1954 No. 196 - February 01, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington


The incorporation of certain areas within the boundaries of a previously organized fire protection district as third class cities automatically excludes such areas from the fire protection district.

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                                                                 February 1, 1954

Honorable Charles O. Carroll
Prosecuting Attorney
King County
County City Building
Seattle 4, Washington                                                                                                              Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 196

Attention:  K. G. Smiles

Dear Sir:

            This is in answer to your letter of January 15, 1954, previously acknowledged.  The question is:  Does the incorporation of the Bellevue and Normandy Park areas as third class cities within the boundaries of a previously organized fire protection district, automatically exclude such areas from the fire protection district?

            The answer is yes.


            The law relating to the creation of fire protection districts is codified in RCW 52.04.020.  Because of a material variation between the language as codified,  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] and the language of section 1, chapter 254, Laws of 1947, we quote from the latter:

            "Fire‑Protection Districts for the elimination of fire hazards and for the protection of life and property in territories outside of incorporated cities and towns and in territories including one or more cities of the fourth class are hereby authorized to be established as in this act provided."

            This section clearly contemplates the inclusion of towns of the fourth class within, but the exclusion of cities of any higher class from fire protection districts.

            This office has previously considered the effect of the annexation to a city of territory within a fire protection district.  See AGO dated September 8, 1949, to the Honorable Maloy Sensney, Prosecuting Attorney of Benton County [[Opinion No. 49-51-121]], a copy of which is enclosed.  The answer there given was that the area so annexed ceases to belong to the district except for the purpose of paying pre‑existing indebtedness.

            The effect of an original incorporation of an area within a fire protection district as a city of the third class has exactly the same effect as if such area were annexed to a pre‑existing city.  In our opinion, the incorporation of Bellevue and Normandy Park, as cities of the third class, automatically excludes those areas from the fire protection district within which they are located.

            Your attention is directed to RCW 35.13.160, 35.13.230, and 35.13.250, all being derived from chapter 248, Laws of 1951.  Although this act relates to the adjustment of property rights, assets, and liabilities between the city and a fire protection district where a portion of the district has been annexed to a city, nevertheless it establishes a policy which would appear to be applicable to the situation existing in your county.  Consequently, the area may still be subject to tax levies for the purpose of satisfaction of pre‑existing indebtedness, even though it would no longer be subject to levy for the purpose of defraying current expenses.  Therefore, for the limited purpose mentioned, the territory might be considered, in effect, still a part of the district until the pre‑existing indebtedness, if any, is fully satisfied.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General

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