August 11, 2011 in Washington Voices

Trade Center beam dedication planned at Valley fire department

By The Spokesman-Review

Wording has been selected for the plaque that will be installed next to a steel beam from the World Trade Center towers in the new Spokane Valley Fire Department administration building under construction. The beam dedication ceremony is scheduled for 6:59 a.m. on Sept. 11, the exact time the first tower fell.

The department asked community members to suggest wording on the plaque and on Monday fire commissioners voted for their favorite, which was actually a combination of two of the eight entries received. Each entry was numbered so commissioners could cast their vote.

“I think all of these are great,” said Commissioner Joe Dawson. “That No. 4 really stuck out for me.” The other commissioners quickly agreed.

The winning entry was submitted by Mark Hill, a captain at the Greenacres Fire Station. It reads: “Let this beam of rigid steel formed of the hands of men not represent the human atrocities committed on Sept. 11, 2001. Let it instead stand to bear witness to the strength of our resolve as a nation of people. Let it hold silent vigil and remind us all of the brave men and women who will be there for us in a time of need.”

Since the entry didn’t include any identifying information, the commissioners voted to add a portion of another entry. It reads: “This beam from the World Trade Center, forged by steel from fire, was placed here on 9-11-2011 by the hands of our community.”

In other business, the commissioners heard a report on the county-wide ambulance contract with American Medical Response that the department administers. The ambulance service board recently approved a 3.5 percent rate increase after AMR demonstrated that its costs, which include benefits and fuel, have risen 8 percent, said Chief Mike Thompson. That raises the set rate for an ambulance transport from $941.22 to $974.16.

Thompson also presented information on how ambulance response times have improved since the new contract went into effect. In the time period of July 1, 2010 through Sept. 30, 2010, AMR responded to 1,086 “code” calls in Spokane Valley and was late on 148 of those. That put the compliance rate at 86 percent. In other areas of the county the on-time rate was as low as 65 percent.

From April 1 to June 30 there was a marked improvement in response times, Thompson said. In Spokane Valley there were 1,001 “code” calls and AMR was late to 57 of them, a 94 percent on-time rate. The improvements were not limited to the area served by the Spokane Valley Fire Department. In some areas of the county the on-time rate went up by nearly 30 percent.

“They made a tremendous change on how they were doing business because of our contract,” Thompson said.

The commissioners approved a resolution allowing the department to recover costs for hazardous materials responses. The department will only seek reimbursement for major events that last several hours, tying up department personnel and equipment, said Thompson. “We’re not talking about the car accidents or little fuel leaks,” he said.

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