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June 17, 1970
Honorable Norwood Cunningham
State Representative, 30th District
750 Alvord Avenue
Kent, Washington 98031
Cite as: AGLO 1970 No. 95
Thank you for your letter of June 15, 1970, clarifying the issues raised by your earlier request for our opinion as to the authority of a fire protection district to enter into a contract with a city, or with a tax exempt retirement home located within a city, whereby, in return for a contractually stipulated consideration, the fire protection district would undertake to provide fire protection services for certain facilities owned by the city or for the said retirement home located therein.
Under the provisions of chapter 237, Laws of 1959 (chapter 52.22 RCW) all incorporated cities and towns were automatically withdrawn from the territorial jurisdiction of fire protection districts. Hence, a fire protection district no longer has any statutory obligation to provide fire protection services for any property located within an incorporated city or town ‑ irrespective of whether the property is owned by the city or town itself or by a corporation or association (tax exempt or otherwise).
Accordingly, it follows that if a particular fire protection district is to be called upon to provide such services, the district's undertaking to provide the services in question must be based upon a contract between it and the city ‑ or between the district and the property owner ‑ in accordance with the authority granted to fire protection districts by RCW 52.08.030 (3). This statute reads, in material part, as follows:
"Any fire protection district organized under this act shall have authority:
". . . .
[[Orig. Op. Page 2]] "(3) To enter into contract with any incorporated city or town whereby such city or town shall furnish fire prevention and fire extinguishment service to the districts and the inhabitants thereof under the provisions of this act upon such terms as the board of directors of the district shall determine. To contract with another county fire protection district, or with any town, city or municipal corporation or governmental agency or private person or persons to consolidate or cooperate for mutual fire fighting protection and prevention purposes. Any city, town, municipal corporation or governmental agency may contract with a county fire protection district established and maintained under the provisions of this act for the purpose of affording such district fire fighting and protection equipment and service or fire prevention facilities, and in so contracting the district, city, town, municipal corporation or other governmental agency shall be deemed for all purposes to act within its governmental capacity. Any county fire protection district established and maintained under the provisions ofthis act, or any city, town, municipal corporation or other governmental agency is hereby authorized to contract with any person, firm or corporation for the purpose of affording fire fighting, protection or fire prevention facilities to such person, firm or corporation and such contractual relation shall be deemed for all purposes to be within the governmental power of such rural fire protection district, city, town, municipal corporation or other governmental agency;"
See, also, RCW 52.22.040, codifying § 8, chapter 237, Laws of 1959 (the act withdrawing all incorporated cities and towns from the territorial jurisdiction of fire protection districts) which provides:
"A city or town encompassing territory withdrawn under the provisions of chapter 52.22 shall determine the most effective and feasible fire protection for the withdrawn territory, or any part thereof, and the legislative authority of the city or town and the commissioners of the fire protection district may, without limitation on any other powers provided by law:
"(1) Enter into contracts to the same extent [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] as fire protection districts and cities and towns may enter into contracts under authority of RCW 52.08.030 (3), and
"(2) Sell, purchase, rent, lease, or exchange property of every nature."
Based upon these statutory provisions, it is our opinion that a fire protection district has the necessary authority to enter into contracts with incorporated cities or towns, or with property owners of property located therein, to provide fire protection services on a contractual basis for a stipulated consideration, with respect to the protection of property actually located within the boundaries of such city or town.
It is hoped that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.
Very truly yours,
FOR THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
Philip H. Austin
Assistant Attorney General