Formation of Western Emergency Service Area moves forward

Board members have been appointed and transfer of assets is next

Steps to form and finalize the borough’s newly expanded fire and medical emergency service area covering Anchor Point and Ninilchik continue, with the seating of a board of directors and more.

In the October election, voters in Anchor Point and Ninilchik approved the creation of one large service area covering both communities called the Western Emergency Service Area. The service area will operate on a mill rate from property taxes and will combine the existing paid staff from the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area with the volunteers from Ninikchik Emergency Services. The proposition that voters approved also creates five additional full-time, paid staff positions, since the fire department in Ninilchik was mostly volunteer run with only one paid staff member.

At its most recent meeting on Dec. 1, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly confirmed appointments of members to the board that will oversee the new service area. Applicants were appointed by Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce. In the future, they will be selected by voters, as is done with other borough service areas.

In total, nine people had applied for positions on the board.

The members of the new service area board were appointed as follows:

Cherie Richter, seat A (Anchor Point)

Dawson Slaughter, seat B (Anchor Point)

Kathryn Lopeman, seat C (Ninilchik)

Katherine Covey, seat D (Ninilchik)

James Lee Kenshalo, seat E (at-large)

According to a memo from Pierce to the assembly, both Slaughter and Lopeman are current firefighters and/or emergency medical service providers. Slaughter also served on the Anchor Point Fire and Emergency Medical Service Area board.

Because only one active fire/EMS volunteer is allowed to serve on the board at one time, Lopeman has agreed to resign as a volunteer.

The Western Emergency Service Area board’s first meeting was Wednesday evening, which took place virtually.

Also at the Dec. 1 meeting, the assembly introduced an ordinance that would transfer the assets held by Ninilchik Emergency Services over to the borough to be used for the Western Emergency Service Area.

Ninilchik Emergency Services is a nonprofit that was formed in 1981, according to a memo attached to the borough ordinance. The nonprofit and its board of directors served as the funding and oversight mechanism for the fire department. In order for the transition to be complete, the nonprofit must transfer its ownership of all equipment, vehicles and buildings to the borough.

According to an inventory list included with the ordinance, Ninilchik Emergency Services had both its station and a training cabin used by its volunteers which will be transferred to the borough, as well as a shed and two Connex containers. Other equipment to be transferred includes a fire engine, several other response vehicles, a collection of tools, AEDs, CPR dummies, computer equipment and more.

The ordinance was introduced at the Dec. 1 meeting and will be up for public hearing at the assembly’s next meeting on Jan. 5.

Reach Megan Pacer at

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that one of the members of the Western Emergency Service Area board has resigned as a fire/EMS department volunteer, as only one volunteer is allowed on the board at one time.