Central Whidbey Island Fire & Rescue (CWIFR) serves approximately 8,264 (Washington Office of Financial Management, 2010a, 2010b) residents and many visitors within 50 square miles of Central Whidbey Island from three fire stations. CWIFR’s response stretches from just south of Libby Road to just north of Mutiny Bay road and spans the breadth of the island. This predominantly rural area includes the Town of Coupeville and the unincorporated community of Greenbank. The District is predominantly rural with an average population density of 165.28/square mile (mi2).
Coupeville is the second oldest town in Washington and is predominantly a residential community. However, Coupeville serves as the Island County Seat and the commercial center for the surrounding residential area. The town’s area of just over one square mile is divided into two distinct areas, the older commercial district, county offices, and health care facilities north of State Route (SR) 20. Schools and newer commercial development are south of SR 20. The Town of Coupeville also contains a majority of the District’s target hazards.
- Front Street (several blocks of old, wood frame commercial buildings)
- Island County Complex (e.g., court, jail, county offices)
- Whidbey General Hospital
- Careage Nursing Home
- Apartment Complexes
- Manufactured Home Communities
- Bed and Breakfast Hotels
- Island County Museum
- Coupeville Elementary, Middle, and High Schools
- Multiple Historic Buildings
- Home Health Care/Group Home Facilities
Ebey’s Reserve is the nation’s first historical reserve, created in 1978 to protect a rural working landscape and community on Central Whidbey Island. The reserve includes 17,500 acres, 17 farms, over 400 historic structures, native prairies, two state parks, and the Town of Coupeville.
Target hazards in Ebey’s reserve (outside the Town of Coupeville) include:
- Jacob Ebey House (National Park Service)
- Ferry House (National Park Service)
- Multiple Historical Agricultural Facilities and Homes
Other Areas of the District
Areas of the District outside the Town of Coupeville are predominantly rural residential. However, there are a number of target hazards based on fire and non-fire risks.
- Seattle Pacific University Conference Center/Camp Casey
- United States Navy Coupeville Outlying Field (OLF)
- Greenbank Farm
- Washington State Ferry (Coupeville) Terminal
- Fort Casey State Park
- South Whidbey State Park
- Penn Cove Shellfish
The primary transportation routes through the District are provided by State Routes 20 and 525. A limited number of major and secondary arterials parallel SR 20 and 525 in some areas of the District. There is no secondary route of travel between Fire Management Zones (FMZs) 53 and 54. The Washington State Ferry connects with SR 20 at the Coupeville (Keystone) Ferry Terminal.
Demographics & Geography
The District is predominantly rural with an average population density of 165.28/mi2 (63.81 square kilometers (km2)) with pockets of urban and suburban density throughout the District. However, the majority of CWIFR’s response area is extremely rural.
Unlike the north and south ends of Whidbey Island, Central Whidbey is predominantly a retirement community with a median age of 51 (US Census, 2011). In the last 13 years, the median age in our community has increased by eight years. Increasing median age points to a significantly aging population within the District which has a significant impact on fire and health risk, demand for emergency services, and an adverse impact on the District’s ability to recruit community based emergency service volunteers.
The District’s three fire stations are geographically placed to limit travel time. However, volunteer staffing and the geography of the district (long and narrow with limited travel routes) has a significant impact on second and third unit response times.