April 24, 2008 in Voices

New Station 9 for Valley Fire

By The Spokesman-Review
 
John Craig photo

The Spokesman-Review The new Valley Fire Station 9 will be built at this site on Whipple Road and 32nd Avenue. This is one of two duplexes that have been used for training drills until the ground is broken on that site.
(Full-size photo)

The Spokane Valley Fire Department has just the thing for limousine drivers in the market for a house.

Assistant Chief Larry Rider says “someone is going to get a nice little home with a terrific garage” this fall when the department sells one of its firehouses.

Station 9, at 11514 E. 16th Ave. – the department’s only actual “fire house” – is to be replaced with a new station about a mile south at the corner of Whipple Road and 32nd Avenue.

Department officials last week awarded a contract for construction of a new Station 9 at 12121 E. 32nd Ave.

“It will make us quicker to south Valley,” Rider said. “It’s where we need to be.”

The existing station is an approximately 1,000-square-foot single-family home with a full basement that the department purchased in 2001 as a stopgap. The garage was lengthened 20 feet to accommodate a Type 2 fire truck.

Even though the truck is six feet shorter than the department’s full-size trucks, “it just barely fits,” Rider said.

“We really never intended to put an engine in there, but things took a little longer than we thought,” Rider said.

He said the new station “will handle anything we need to put into it” when it opens in October.

Station 9 had only a paramedic truck when it opened in fall 2004 along with Station 8 at 2110 N. Wilbur Road and Station 10 at 17217 E. Sprague Ave.

The paramedic unit has since been reassigned and assimilated into two engine companies at other stations.

Rider said the department purchased the 1,249-square-foot single-family home in 2001 because the Sprague-Appleway couplet forced units at Station 1, across Sprague Avenue from the University City Shopping Center, to drive a half-mile out of their way to go south.

In the long run, Rider said, the department needed something farther south, but the house on 16th Avenue was available. He said the department bought it for $103,000 and spent around $80,000 on remodeling.

The new station will be built by Meridian Construction of Spokane Valley for $1.19 million.

Meridian submitted the lowest of eight bids that ranged up to $1.5 million.

“We got terrific bids,” Rider said. “We were right on target.”

Despite inflation since the cost was estimated nine months ago, he said the cost came in at the predicted $158 per square foot.

The new 7,500-square-foot station will have room for two full-size trucks. The one-story, wood and masonry veneer structure also will have quarters for eight firefighters, compared with two at the current Station 9.

Rider said a third full-time firefighter will be added, but Station 9 will continue to operate with its single Type 2 truck.

That truck and another like it that went into service last spring are better suited to “urban interface” areas prone to wildfires, Rider said. The rigs are easier to maneuver and carry compressed-air foam.

The other Type 2 truck is at Station 4 in Otis Orchards.

Rider doesn’t know what price the old Station 9 may fetch, but he doesn’t expect its oversize garage to hamper its curb appeal as a house.

“How many motor homes do you see parked outside of homes all over the county?” Rider said. “I think we’re OK.”

The department probably couldn’t get much for the two “fourplexes” at the site of the new Station 9. Firefighters have spent the last two months carving them up, Rider said.

He said department officials had intended to burn instead of demolish the buildings when they were purchased last fall for $418,000.

“When they got done with the asbestos abatement, there wasn’t much left to burn,” Rider said.

He said firefighters were “really looking forward” to dowsing practice fires, but that was spoiled because all the interior drywall was removed. So firefighters switched to ventilation and search-and-rescue drills in which they sawed through the roofs and broke down the doors.

“It looked like Swiss cheese because we basically cut them into little pieces,” Rider said.

Since stations 8, 9 and 10 were created, the department has purchased land for an 11th station, at Barker Road and Euclid Avenue, that might be built a half-dozen years from now as the area grows.

Rider said the department – which actually is an autonomous district – tries to avoid bond measures or other borrowing.

Voters agreed last fall to lift the district’s property tax levy lid, “and that’s what generates the revenue to build the buildings that are on the facility plan,” Rider said.

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