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University, Otis Orchards fire stations to be remodeled

Plans are underway to remodel the University and Otis Orchards fire stations this summer, which will require both stations to be shut down for about six months.

The crew from University Fire Station across from the old University City Mall will operate out of the South Valley Station on 32nd Avenue; the crew from Otis Orchards will respond from the Liberty Lake Station on Harvard Road.

Every effort will be made to have the crews working in their first run areas during the day to minimize the impact to response times, said Spokane Valley Fire Department Deputy Chief Larry Rider. “We’re going to mitigate that in many ways,” he said.

A start date has not been set, but Rider said he hopes to have the projects out to bid in March. The contractor will be told that speed is essential. “We’re going to be putting them on a pretty hard schedule,” he said.

There are safety issues at both stations, Rider said. Neither has a fire sprinkler system, and both will get them during the remodel. “They need upgrades and improvements to maintain our levels of service,” Rider said.

The work at University Station, built in 1976 and which includes the department’s old administrative offices, will be the most extensive. “Essentially, the whole station just gets gutted,” he said.

Some walls will be moved to create two separate sleeping areas that can be used by two crews operating out of the station simultaneously. The basement will be changed from offices and cubicles to a backup data center and emergency command center. The main roof is leaking and the HVAC equipment is old and needs to be replaced, Rider said. “We’re leaking everywhere,” he said.

The truck bay floor is broken in several places and will be ripped out and dropped down a foot so taller trucks will be able to make it into the station more easily, he said.

Changes to the Otis Orchards Station, built in 1984, will be less extensive. The kitchen and bathroom will get updates and an addition will house a workout room and a room for the department’s sewing program to repair firefighters’ turnout gear. Crews in that station currently have a few pieces of workout equipment set up in a corner of the truck bay.