The doors of the new Fire Station 41 in Deer Park are almost ready to swing open, a move that is anticipated by both Spokane County Fire District 4 and the community.
The five-door drive-thru truck bay is cavernous enough to fit 10 engines inside, but it’s the community room and public space that local residents are eagerly awaiting.
“We’ve had people asking for a year,” said Fire Chief Randy Johnson.
The new station on Crawford Road replaces the much older and much smaller station across the street next to the Deer Park City Hall. The station is owned by the city and the district has been leasing it, Johnson said.
“We’ve been working out of there since 1985,” he said. “We outgrew that one about 10 years ago, quite frankly.”
The land the new station sits on was also owned by the city. There was a single building on the property, the old Deer Park High School gym that had been used as a community center until structural issues forced its closure. The fire district was offered the land for free if they tore down the asbestos-riddled building.
“They didn’t have funds to do anything with it,” he said.
The station’s price tag of $6.5 million was paid for by a bond approved by voters in 2014. The bond also paid for two new fire engines, two water tenders, the remodel of Station 48 and the construction of a new station on Elk-Chattaroy Road east of Highway 2 to serve the growing population in that area.
“That area was where we had the largest number of homes more than 5 miles from a station,” he said.
The district is set to move into the new station in mid-June. The building will also house the district’s administrative offices. The old offices will be turned into a training facility.
The community room in the new station can be used as one large room or broken up into three smaller ones. There is also a food prep area.
Public facilities are scarce in Deer Park, and the district has been getting a lot of calls about its new space. Johnson said the district won’t begin accepting reservations for the community room until the fall. When the room is available, it will be offered at a nominal cost.
“It’s the community’s facility, but there will be some cleaning costs,” he said.
The public part of the station has a few special touches from the old gym-turned-community center. The portion of the gym floor that included the school’s logo was saved and is being turned into a table. Several large beams salvaged from the building hang from the ceiling in a back hallway.
“We’re fairly certain they were milled at the original Deer Park mill,” Johnson said.
The station will be staffed by a mix of volunteers and paid firefighters. The building has dorm rooms for 16 firefighters as well as space for three residential firefighters. They receive free room and board in exchange for being assigned regular shifts.
The truck bay has a unique feature. The front doors fold open to the sides rather than rolling up like a traditional fire station door. The roll up doors require a lot of maintenance, Johnson said.
“They’re faster than overhead doors,” he said. “They have less moving parts.”
There will be an open house at the station with public tours during the annual Settlers Days event in July.
“We’re just really thankful for the support of the community,” Johnson said.
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