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Cosmopolis mayor declares emergency after entire volunteer fire department resigns

The volunteer fire department has served the town of Cosmopolis for more than 120 years.

COSMOPOLIS, Wash. — The town of Cosmopolis is under a state of emergency after the entire volunteer fire department resigned Saturday, Jan. 1.

The resignation of the roughly 17 volunteer Cosmopolis firefighters comes due to a dispute with Mayor Kyle Pauley, who signed the emergency declaration on Saturday.

In a letter, Pauley gave his side of the dispute, which involved pay for death and injury protection, a Department of Health EMS license and various “budget and policy adjustments” he said were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting loss of funding.

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“Many of the challenges presented fall onto the fact that as a volunteer department it is difficult to commit the additional time to paperwork and documentation. As stated for years, funding a part-time clerk position for the Fire Department that could handle these measures has been a goal,” Pauley’s letter said in part.

In an update on its Facebook page, the Cosmopolis Volunteer Fire Association said Pauley’s letter “states numerous responses in his letter to the statements previously released in our statement are only written to defend himself personally and not represent the actual events.”

The state of emergency allows other municipalities to lend their emergency services to Cosmopolis when necessary. It is set to terminate on Feb. 1 unless it is extended.

Pauley said that there will be a delay in particular 911 response times due to the lack of a fire department.

"Our neighboring agency in Aberdeen that we're under a mutual aid agreement with, they're willing to help," Pauley told KING 5. "But given the winter holiday and the number of calls, there is absolutely going to be a delay in service."

However, Pauley has left the door open for any volunteer firefighters to come back to the department.

Pauley’s letter said, “If there are members of the department who resigned and choose to return as a volunteer, they would be welcome to do so as the City looks to the future of the Cosmopolis Volunteer Fire Department.”

The Cosmopolis Volunteer Fire Association has been in existence for 127 years. The group wrote on its Facebook page, “It is now in your hands to hold Kyle Pauley responsible and demand accurate information. We wish you all well and it has been an absolute pleasure serving you.”

Currently, Cosmopolis has no long-term solution to the lack of a fire department.

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