October 3, 2013 in Washington Voices

Newman Lake district to float bond to replace old fire station

By The Spokesman-Review
Tyler Tjomsland photoBuy this photo

Toni Halloran, Deputy Chief of Newman Lake Fire and Rescue, concentrates as she maneuvers a water tender into the cramped confines of Station 1 on Tuesday. Newman Lake Fire and Rescue is again preparing to ask voters to pass a bond to replace Station 1.
(Full-size photo)

Map of this story's location
If you go

What: Open house

Where: Station 1, 10236 N. West Newman Lake Drive

When: Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Newman Lake Fire and Rescue Fire Chief Keith Yamane is hoping that the housing and job markets have recovered enough for his district to take another shot at passing a bond to replace an aging and out-of-compliance fire station.

The district, which has mostly volunteer firefighters and a few paid personnel, put a $2.2 million bond on the 2011 general election ballot. It failed with 48 percent of the vote. This time the fire commissioners are eyeing a $1.1 million bond on the April ballot.

The plan is to use the district’s reserves to fund the other $1.1 million needed to replace Station 1 on West Newman Lake Drive, Yamane said. “That’s the direction we’re looking at,” he said. “The design is essentially still the same. It’s what we need.”

Plans call for a steel-sided building with four truck bays on land the district already owns at Moffat and Starr roads. The current station was built in 1966 and is in violation of several building and safety codes. The narrow bays barely accommodate the fire trucks and there is no sprinkler system. There also isn’t an exhaust removal system to prevent fumes from seeping into offices.

Yamane said that residents were largely supportive of the 2011 bond but said they couldn’t afford the tax increase, which was estimated to be $120 on a $200,000 home. “A lot of people were out of jobs then,” he said. “It’s only going to be half of what we were asking before.”

Since then the district has also paid off the loans it had for a fire boat and a water tender. “Right now we have no long-term debt,” Yamane said.

If the bond is successful the district would likely try to sell the current Station 1 after the new station is built, Yamane said.

The goal now is to spread the word about what the district is asking for and why, Yamane said. To that end the district is hosting an open house at Station 1, located at 10236 N. West Newman Lake Drive, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The fire commissioners plan to be in attendance to answer questions about the bond proposal.

In addition, firefighters will participate in a chili cook-off with free tasting while it lasts. People can tour the Edith House fire safety trailer and a MedStar helicopter. Children can play games and have their picture taken in a fire truck. There will also be a Jaws of Life demonstration and hands-only CPR classes.

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