March 17, 2012 in Washington Voices

Spokane Fire to back up Valley Fire

Station 6 will temporarily respond from Station 1; agreement cuts response times
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Spokane Fire Department engines are responding to 911 calls for fires or medical assistance on the west end of the Spokane Valley along with crews from the Spokane Valley Fire Department.

The Spokane Fire Department agreed to step in under a mutual aid agreement while Valley Station 6 at 6306 E. Sprague Ave. is torn down and rebuilt. The Station 6 crew will now respond out of Station 1 near the old University City Mall, which would lengthen response times if Spokane had not agreed to help, said Valley Fire Capt. Pat Schaffer.

The mutual aid agreement usually activates if all the Spokane Valley crews are on a big fire and need help with other calls that come in. The agreement works both ways and Valley fire crews respond in Spokane if all the nearest Spokane crews are tied up.

Depending on the circumstances, residents might see only a Spokane Fire Department engine. “The nearest truck will be dispatched,” Schaffer said. Engines will come from Spokane’s Station 7 or Station 14 automatically, but they will be canceled if they’re not needed so they are not pulled out of their own response area unnecessarily, Schaffer said. “The important thing is to get the emergency response there in a timely fashion.”

Spokane Engine 14 will respond to calls south of Interstate 90 and west of Eastern Road. Spokane Engine 7 will respond to calls north of I-90 and west of McKinnon.

The crew moved out of Valley Station 6 on March 9. Asbestos abatement has been under way and demolition is scheduled to start Monday. Construction should be complete in October, Schaffer said. Every effort has been made to speed up construction. “They’ve got the gas pedal down, here,” he said.

There was talk at one point about Valley crews responding from Spokane’s Station 7. “Our response times would suffer even more,” he said. “We were very grateful the city was willing to do that. We decided this was the best and most equitable solution. Operationally it would have been too difficult.”

There is plenty of room for two crews at Station 1, though one reserve engine had to be moved to another station. “We had to do a little shuffling,” Schaffer said. “We can do it.”

The department has done everything it can to minimize response time delays during construction, Shaffer said. “It is going to impact our response,” he said. “After the first month we’ll take a look and see just how much. If there is an unacceptable spike, we’ll have to rethink this.”


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