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Valley Fire mulls construction bids for Station 6

Spokane Valley Fire Department commissioners got a bit of sticker shock Monday when they opened bids for the construction of a new Station 6. The department has plans to tear down and rebuild the too-small station, which is 51 years old.

Staff had estimated the cost at $1.3 million. A dozen contractors submitted bids ranging from $1.5 million to $1.8 million. The apparent low bidder was BN Builders at $1,547,000. The next lowest bid was Leone and Keeble at $1,636,200. The highest bid of $1,830,000 was received from Halme Builders.

The staff will have to look at the budget to see where the extra money might come from, said Deputy Chief Larry Rider. “It just came in higher than I expected,” he said. “The cost of everything is going up.” Rider said he plans to examine the project specifications to see if the costs can be trimmed.

A decision on how to move forward is expected at the next commissioner meeting Feb. 27. The commissioners could choose to abandon the project, Rider said. “We can build it or not build it,” he said.

In other business, the commissioners heard an update on the new automated voice dispatch being used for fire calls in the region. From Jan. 1-Aug. 28, 2011, 62 percent of calls were dispatched in 60 seconds or less. After the new automated system was put in place calls from Aug. 29, 2011, to Jan. 21, were dispatched in under 60 seconds 93 percent of the time.

The time is reduced because the system uses a computerized voice to broadcast the call to firefighters while the dispatcher is still on the phone, said Fire Chief Mike Thompson. “The dispatcher is still there, still taking information,” he said. “You can see the dramatic difference it made.”

The commissioners were given a day-by-day breakdown of call dispatch times since the system went online. On several days the number of calls dispatched in less than 60 seconds was 100 percent.

The commissioners voted unanimously to approve a new contract with Spokane Valley Firefighters Local 876. The contract calls for a pay freeze in 2012 and raises of up to 3 percent in 2013 and 2014 based on inflation as shown by the consumer price index.

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