When Spokane Valley Fire Department’s Station 6 closed for demolition and rebuilding in March, the department hoped to be finished by early October, but a series of incidents have pushed the expected completion to mid-November.
“It just had some complications,” Deputy Chief Larry Rider said. “We had a lot of rain this spring. It slowed down the masonry.”
The structural insulated panels for the roof, selected in part to save time, have instead caused delays. The panels, framed by 2-by-12s, include insulating foam covered with plywood. Rider said there was some difficulty getting the exact measurements figured out and the manufacturer couldn’t accommodate any delay.
“Another big project came in and we lost our place in line,” he said. “At the end of the day it didn’t save us any time.”
Rider said he was pleased with the panels, which he hasn’t used before, when they finally arrived. “I jumped up and down on them and kicked them and said OK,” he said.
The station’s brick walls are complete and the roof is going on. This week crews were working on the interior. Rider, who has overseen several building projects for the department, is frequently on site making sure everything is going smoothly.
“I take my job managing the taxpayer’s money seriously,” he said. “If it’s in the plans you’re going to do exactly what it says. I walk through and see things they have to fix.”
The construction of the roof isn’t the only way Station 6 is different from other stations. Because of its location on East Sprague Avenue next to Interstate 90’s Sprague exit, it is longer and narrower than other stations. The garage will have doors on both ends so fire engines can drive through, which isn’t the case in the department’s newer stations.
It took 10 years to purchase adjoining property, get a portion of an unused street vacated and work through easement issues, Rider said. Designing a station to fit the unusually shaped site was also a challenge. “This one has been just a little tougher,” he said.
The part that is going better than expected is responses to emergency calls. The crew that usually staffs Station 6 is working out of Station 1, on Sprague near the old University City Mall. It was expected that response times would go up despite an agreement with the Spokane Fire Department to respond to calls in some areas on the west end of the city.
An analysis of Station 6 response times in the months just before and after the station closed show only minor differences. There was a 17-second increase in response times for basic life support calls and a 21-second increase for advanced life support calls. The response time for fire incidents was up 41 seconds.
Part of the reason for the low increase in response times is the effort the department has made to have the Station 6 crew essentially on patrol in their primary response area doing inspections and other work, Rider said. “We keep that unit down here working as much as we can,” he said.
Responses by Spokane Fire crews have also helped, Rider said. “I don’t know how many times, but they’re popping up,” he said.
Rider is looking forward to getting construction wrapped up. Since 2004, the department has built three new fire stations and an administration building. “This is the last one we’ll do for a long time,” he said.