Construction is underway at Spokane Valley Fire Department Station 8 on Wilbur Road to make two engine bays longer to accommodate larger trucks.
The station was built in 2004 and houses a ladder truck, a rescue unit and the department’s water rescue team, said Deputy Fire Chief Tim O’Brien. “That fills up our three bays,” he said.
The department has ordered a new tiller truck, which has a second driver position in the back and is longer than a standard fire engine.
“It’s longer than existing bays are,” O’Brien said of the new tiller truck. “We want to accommodate modern fire apparatus that meet our operational objectives.”
The truck should arrive next spring, and the work to enlarge the truck bay will be finished by the end of August. The project to extend two of the three truck bays will add 600 square feet to the 12,600 square foot station, O’Brien said.
The project isn’t as simple as adding space to the front of the station. It’s complicated slightly due to the necessity of moving an interior stairwell. ZBA Architecture designed the project and Western States Construction started work at the end of April.
Crews are continuing to respond from the station during construction, O’Brien said. Some alterations had to be made to the station to make that possible, including adding a ramp so firefighters could exit the building quickly. The goal is to not let the construction affect response times, O’Brien said.
“Response time is really, really important to us,” he said. “It is challenging. They’ve done a great job. That’s what firemen do, adapt and overcome.”
The station’s truck bay doors are also being upgraded. The traditional rollup doors are being replaced with doors that fold to the side. “They open and close extremely fast,” said O’Brien. “They’re more durable than a rollup door.”
The red-trimmed doors also look nice, he said. “They really provide a signature look,” he said. “It just adds so much to the front of the station.”
The new tiller truck will be the second one purchased by the department. The first one is already in use at Greenacres Fire Station. Putting the second one at Station 8 makes geographic sense, O’Brien said. “This is the perfect location,” he said.
There are quite a few benefits that a tiller truck brings to the table, O’Brien said. “They have larger compartmentation, so we can carry more,” he said. “There’s only so much space on the engines.”
Though the tiller truck will only carry about 285 gallons of water, it can carry a lot more fire and rescue equipment than a standard engine.
Typically when a new type of truck arrives all the crews must be trained on it before it can go into service. But since the department already has a tiller truck, training shouldn’t be an issue. “We’re already doing it,” he said.
The tiller truck will also be able to fit in tight spots, such as at apartment complexes, that might be a problem for a regular engine or ladder truck. “As long as they are, they’re more maneuverable,” O’Brien said. “We have a lot more multifamily housing. They work well in there.”
The tiller truck cost the department $1.4 million and the remodeling project will cost $500,000. The department paid cash for both as it does for all its construction projects and apparatus purchases, which is a point of pride for the department.
“We plan very far ahead for our projects,” O’Brien said.
The construction project has been going well and O’Brien said he doesn’t anticipate any setbacks. “We are on budget and on time,” he said. “Everything is going very smooth.”
Since two bays are being expanded to accommodate the longer tiller truck, there will be enough space to allow all the existing apparatus to remain once construction is complete.
“We always need more bay space,” he said. “We’re not giving up anything.”
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