September 10, 2011 in Washington Voices

Fire station viable, and still could be

Monte Nesbitt
 
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Vocal Point is written by members of the community about issues of area interest. If you’d like to address a topic in this space, let us know. Contact Jeff Jordan at (509) 927-2170 or by email at voice@ spokesman.com to discuss what you’d like to write.

As chairman of the board of Fire Commissioners and on behalf of my fellow fire commissioners, I feel a response is required due to recent comments by some Spokane Valley City Council members who are either misinformed or uninformed on the history of the Spokane Valley Fire Departments concerns regarding the Sprague/Appleway one-way/two-way couplet affecting our response times. I am submitting the following chronology of events to provide some clarification to the issue.  

• Letter dated Jan. 13, 1999 to Ross Kelley, Spokane County Public Works, from Chief Pat Humphries regarding the one-way couplet.  Letter outlines the requirements for the fire department to continue effective response times to the citizens of the community.

• Letter dated May 24, 1999 to Ross Kelley, Spokane County Public Works, from Harry Larned, chairman, Board of Fire Commissioners regarding the one-way couplet.  Letter outlines continued concerns of the fire departments requirements and that the requirements are “absolutely necessary” in maintaining emergency response times.

• Letter dated Dec. 27, 2000 To Ross Kelley, Spokane County Public Works, County Commissioner McCaslin and County Commissioner Harris regarding the one-way couplet.   Letter states that the Appleway couplet “has caused increased response times” from Spokane Valley Fire Departments Station No. 1 due to the new required route of travel. The letter also addresses relocating Station No. 1 to the SW corner of Appleway and University and asks to discuss the situation and the aforementioned property with the County Commissioners.

• In 2001:   The county offers to sell the property at University and Appleway for approximately $1 million.

• Letter dated June 16, 2004 to Spokane Valley City Council regarding the “Valley Couplet Issue” from the Board of Fire Commissioners.   The letter outlines “continuing difficulty with response times” to the Spokane Valley City Council.

• In 2007: Conversation between Spokane Valley Fire Department Chief Mike Thompson and Mr. Magnuson regarding purchasing property near Appleway and University. I believe property on Dartmouth was also discussed and the property was later sold to the Pring Corporation.

Conversations between Chief Thompson and the City of Spokane Valley regarding co-locating the fire departments administration offices in the new city hall at the proposed city center. As the new city center idea did not occur, the Spokane Valley Fire Department decided to build on property adjacent to the current Fire Station No. 8.

• In 2009: The City of Spokane Valley decided to convert Sprague Avenue between Argonne and University to a two-way street which would have eliminated the one-minute, 20-second delay in response time when responding to the east from Station 1. When the newly elected “Positive Change” council members decided to dismantle the Sprague Avenue Revitalization Plan (SARP), the earlier decision by the previous City Council to convert Sprague between Argonne and University was gone also.

• Letter dated Sept. 13, 2010 - Fire Department staff requests direction from the Board of Fire Commissioners on the issue of the Sprague/Appleway couplet one-way or two-way issue.

• Letter dated Sept, 28, 2010 to the City of Spokane Valley mayor and members of the City Council. Letter asks for the city’s assistance in resolving the delayed response time to emergencies that have been created by Sprague being a one-way street.

As you can see by the above chronology of events over the last 11 years, involving three fire chiefs and several changes to the Board of Fire Commissioners, the Spokane Valley Fire Department has consistently brought up the issue of a delay in response times to the local governmental agencies involved, with no resolution.

To my knowledge no governmental agency has ever requested input from the Spokane Valley Fire Department on this public safety issue. That is regrettable. I hope the above information adds clarity to the issue.

The Spokane Valley Fire Department did not create this problem and it should not be our responsibility to burden the taxpayers of the community with a $3.5 million to $4 million request to relocate Station 1 in order to remove the 1 minute, 20 second delay caused by Sprague being a one-way street. With Sprague being a one-way street it forces our response vehicles to loop west and then east on Appleway to University.

Misinformed or uninformed comments like those from Councilmember Dean Grafos concerning the relocation of Station 1 only harm an organization and the community it serves. Station 1 is 35 years old but is a well-built and an updated facility built to last longer than 35 years. It is still a viable station which was ideally located and still could be.

The site was ideally located in the center of the district. It was constructed to be a long-term facility capable of serving the community for many years. Any new site would have to be on three acres, which is expensive and hard to find.

A respected acquaintance of mine said that elected officials should only comment on issues that they actually know something about. I can only concur. The information is available. All they have to do is simply ask.

The above are my personal views and may or may not express the views of my fellow fire commissioners.

Monte F. Nesbitt

Chairman Board of Fire Commissioners

Spokane Valley Fire Department  

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