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EMS Levy Lid Lift

Emergency Medical Service (EMS) Levy Lid Lift

News Releases and Presentations

Call volumes continue to increase for Tacoma Fire Department - January 10, 2023

Resolution 41180 relating to Emergency Medical Services - April 18, 2023 


How We Are Funded

Tacoma residents and businesses pay taxes to the city for all services, including fire suppression and life safety programs. Emergency Medical Service (EMS) is funded separately by a voter-approved EMS levy capped at $0.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.


Voters last approved an EMS levy at $0.50 per $1,000 in 2006 to fund this life saving program. Since then, the rate has dropped to $0.28 per $1,000.


Why did the levy rate drop?

Over time, levy rates fall as property values rise. This caps a fire department to the same amount of revenue per year plus a state limit of a 1 percent increase. The amount of money we receive in an EMS levy does not increase by the same percentage as property value increases.

What is an EMS levy lid lift?

In 2006, we last asked the community for a “lid lift” to return the EMS levy to the amount previously approved by voters ($0.50/$1,000). Lid lifts help us keep up with higher call volumes and costs to provide service. EMS call volumes increase an average 3.1 percent per year - 14 percent in the last year alone. However, the number of Fire Department first response resources, such as fire engines and ladder trucks, has not increased in the last 30 years. The City Council unanimously approved the EMS Levy Lid Lift to appear on the August 1, 2023 ballot with Resolution 41180. This is the first levy lid lift we have asked for in 17 years.

EMS accounts for 80 percent of all emergency calls

We responded to over 49,000 calls in 2022 – of which 80 percent were for medical emergencies. We provide the highest level of emergency medical care called Advanced Life Support or ALS. Our EMS program is staffed with highly skilled firefighter/paramedics and firefighter/emergency medical technicians. ALS means that our emergency personnel can:

  • Start intravenous lines and administer lifesaving medication during your medical emergency
  • Provide advanced airway management to help you breathe
  • Detect early signs of heart attack and interpret EKG readings
  • Other lifesaving, pre-hospital care for trauma, stroke, heart attack, and critical infections

EMS levy lid lift will reduce response times and fund ambulance transport costs for residents

The EMS levy is not a new tax. The Tacoma City Council is considering asking voters to return the EMS levy to $0.50/$1,000 August 1, 2023. The renewal would allow us to:

  • Hire additional firefighters to add three EMS units to reduce response times and increase capacity citywide
  • Cover ambulance transport costs. Advanced Life Support (ALS) transport costs are already covered. Renewing the EMS levy lid lift would also fund Basic Life Support (BLS) transport costs at a savings of almost $1,000 per resident.

The average property owner (defined at $493,000) would pay an additional $9.04 per month in 2024 compared to 2023. The total annual cost for the same property is $246.50 per year for continued 24-hour emergency medical service. 


Fire Chief Tory Green welcomes your questions at (253) 591-5389 or email tfdlevyrenewal. 


TFD Paramedics