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Valley man cited for saving life

The Spokane Valley Fire Department gave an Outstanding Citizen award during Monday’s fire commissioner meeting to a local man for his role in saving a woman’s life when her apartment was on fire.

Capt. Pat Schaffer said Clay Hall spotted smoke coming from a third floor unit at the Meadow Ridge apartments, 12420 E. Mansfield Ave., at 1 a.m. on April 13 and pounded on the door to alert the resident. When there was no response, he opened the unlocked door and went inside despite the heavy smoke and flames near the balcony, Schaffer said.

“He was driven out three times because of the smoke and fire,” he said. Hall continued his efforts “at great personal peril” and finally heard a cry for help from the disoriented resident who had just awoken, Schaffer said. He was able to help the woman out and quite likely saved her life, he said.

Hall thanked the commissioners for the award and shook the hand of nearly every firefighter in the room. “You can take the firefighters test next time,” said commissioner Monte Nesbitt.

The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damage to the building’s attic and three apartments.

In other business, the commissioners unanimously approved putting a replacement maintenance and operations levy on the Aug. 7 ballot. The three-year levy would collect a flat rate of $1.70 per $1,000 in assessed home value beginning in 2013. The $16.4 million collected every year would account for 53 percent of the department’s annual budget.

“We’re trying to hold the levy amount at the same level it is this year,” said Deputy Chief Larry Rider. Rider said the department thought it was important to “hold the line” after recent construction projects that were funded by a levy lid lift approved by voters in 2007.

The department will likely end up collecting less money than it will need to spend but can use its reserves to make up the difference, Rider said. “We know we can absorb that.”