Station 6 a crowd-pleaser

Capt. Chris Cornelius of Spokane Valley Fire Department Station 6, right, gives a tour of the new fire station to Jay and Diane Bohl on Thursday. Jay Bohl was the safety manager for the general contractor that built the station. (Colin Mulvany)
Capt. Chris Cornelius of Spokane Valley Fire Department Station 6, right, gives a tour of the new fire station to Jay and Diane Bohl on Thursday. Jay Bohl was the safety manager for the general contractor that built the station. (Colin Mulvany)

New state of the art facility impresses firefighters, the public

Spokane Valley Fire Department’s Station 6 has been the place to be since it opened in mid-December.

Visitors eager to see the new station at 6306 E. Sprague Ave. include residents, business owners and off-duty firefighters from other stations. “We get pop-ins all the time,” said Capt. Chris Cornelius.

Thursday afternoon it was Jay Bohl, safety manager for general contractor BN Builders, who stopped by with his wife, Diane. Bohl worked on the project during construction and said he wanted to see how the brick station with a drive-through truck bay turned out.

“It looks nice,” he said. “It was a mess. It was kind of hard to put everything together.”

Construction was delayed nearly two months by various problems, including designs showing incorrect drains in the truck bay floor and a support beam in the way of the door-raising mechanism in the truck bay. “We fixed it,” said Deputy Chief Larry Rider of the door mechanism. “We found a workaround.”

The project had about $135,000 in change orders, an 8.6 percent cost increase. “We’re not accustomed to quite that much,” Rider said. “We’re used to about 3 percent. We had some troubles here.”

Bohl was given a tour of the station and seemed pleased. “It turned out nice,” he said.

“It did turn out nice,” Cornelius said. “You guys did a nice job.”

Cornelius said the firefighters haven’t found any major problems once the design issues were fixed. “It’s great,” he said. “It’s a state of the art firehouse.”

The old station had only one bathroom. The workout room was a corner of the truck bay, tucked behind a brush truck. The station was built 60 years ago in an age of shorter and smaller fire engines, so the department only had two engines that could fit inside the doors, Cornelius said. “It was extremely tiny,” he said. “It’s an incredible upgrade from what we had before.”

Since March, when the old station was torn down, Station 6 crews were responding from Station 1 near the old University City Mall, which lengthened response times. The department did frequently get assistance from Spokane Fire Department crews for calls on the west end of Spokane Valley. Their help did have a positive effect, Cornelius said. “They gave us really good service,” he said.

There are pieces of the old station still alive in the new one. A firefighter took old wooden locker doors and made a kitchen table for the new station out of them. A portion of one of the walls that includes signatures of firefighters who served at the station as far back as 1974 was carved out and saved.

Probationary firefighter Steve Wolfe has worked in the new station for six 24-hour shifts. “It’s state of the art,” he said. “It’s definitely been a little more comfortable.”

Engineer George Knapp is glad to be back in his own station. “It’s a lot easier,” he said. “It’s a little less stress on getting there expeditiously.”

The station serves the area on the western edge of Spokane Valley that includes light industrial, residential and commercial areas. Freeway traffic is visible from the front office. “We have a little bit of everything in our first run area,” Cornelius said. “Down here you get a lot of interesting calls. Lots of strange stuff.”

Cornelius’ crew once rescued a donkey that had fallen into a well. “We’ve gotten cats out of walls,” he said.

Knapp, who has been with the department for 16 years, said he once responded to 17 calls in one day from Station 6. A firefighter never knows how busy they will be or what kinds of calls will come in, he said. “You just don’t know,” he said. “It’s a box of chocolates every day.”

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