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Fire department considers remodeling some stations

Sat., Sept. 7, 2013

$1.7 million surplus to be used for updates

The Spokane Valley Fire Department is contemplating several remodeling projects at its older fire stations next year after realizing they will have about $1.7 million more than they need in their reserve fund at the end of 2013.

“I believe we have investments to make and we can afford to make them,” said Deputy Chief Larry Rider during a special commissioner’s meeting Thursday.

Several stations do not have entry vestibules that allow people to enter the building to use an emergency phone. There are no fire sprinkler systems in the department’s two oldest stations, Otis Orchards, built in 1984, and University, built in 1976. Some stations have failing floors, broken cabinetry, leaking roofs and offices that need to be expanded or moved to make them more visible to the public. In the Otis Orchards station, the workout “room” for the crews is a corner of the truck bay with exercise equipment in it.

Rider said he would like to add on to the Otis Orchards station to create a workout room and a sewing room. The sewing machines the department owns are used to repair the turnout gear worn by firefighters, which saves the department money, Rider said. The other stations identified for remodeling projects are Evergreen, Millwood and Liberty Lake.

There is also $30,000 in repairs needed to fix damage to the new Administration Building caused by a flock of woodpeckers, Rider said. The birds showed up this spring, drilling holes in the corbels, which are a series of brackets along the edge of the roof.

“We went through a whole roll of mesh this spring and today they’re back,” he said.

Rider said he wants to figure out a permanent solution to the problem rather than continuously fixing the damage. “I’m not going to go up there every year and chase the woodpeckers out of the rain gutters,” he said.

Chief Bryan Collins said he would like to work toward lowering the department’s Washington Survey and Rating Bureau score from class 3 to class 2, which would have the effect of lowing insurance rates for those served by the department. He recommends hiring a full-time inspector to conduct annual business inspections currently done by fire crews in their spare time. Adding the position will cause the department’s rating score to improve, as will having the crews do pre-incident planning instead of “chasing extinguishers and extension cord violations,” Collins said.

As part of the pre-incident planning, crews would visit local buildings and businesses to map their layout and learn about hazards. Those plans would allow them to be more efficient at fighting a fire. “By 2016 we can be a class 2 fire department,” Collins said.

Overall the department is looking at expected revenue of $31.2 million in 2014, a slight increase from 2013. The department’s expenses haven’t been finalized yet but will include a 0.8 percent pay increase for all employees. Salaries and benefits are expected to total $24 million of the budget.

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