The Spokane Valley Fire Department has put out a 2020 calendar full of historical photos and facts in honor of its 80th anniversary.
Capt. Scott Crawford took the lead on putting the project together. “I’ve been here 25 years,” he said. “You hear stories, and you tuck them away. It was a lot of fun to make.”
The department was formed as Spokane County Fire Protection District 1 in 1940. The first fire station was little more than a low-slung barn in a field. It dropped the word “Protection” along the way and in 2007 formally changed its name to the Spokane Valley Fire Department.
Each month on the calendar features a different station (there are 10) or fire department facility. Crawford and firefighter Marcus Duarte traveled the department, taking pictures of each station, it’s engine and the crews.
Crawford discovered there have been five different Station 1s over the years, including one near Mike’s Tavern. The current Station 1 at 10319 E. Sprague Ave. used to house the district’s administrative offices. In the 1970s there was also a Spokane County Sheriff’s Office substation in the basement, complete with jail cells, Crawford said.
“They were thick concrete rooms with concrete benches,” he said. “That was where we had the computer servers.”
Before the administrative offices were in Station 1 they were in the original Station 5, which used to be at Sullivan Road and Broadway Avenue. That station was sold and then a new Station 5 was built at its current location at 15510 E. Marietta Ave. in 1994.
There were also several different versions of Station 3. The first one, located on East Appleway near the edge of Spokane Valley, was hit by a car and totaled. “It was beyond repair, and they built a new station,” he said.
There’s one story that Crawford heard that didn’t make the calendar. There was a firefighter shortage during World War II and during that time the fire chief stopped a man walking by and asked him if he wanted a job. The man accepted and showed up the next day to Station 2 in Millwood for a five-minute introduction on how the fire engine worked and then started work.
“That was his preparation,” Crawford said. “That was the legend. Things are a little more complex now than they were then.”
Crawford also found pictures of the original Station 4 in Otis Orchards. “It was so tiny,” he said. “You had to turn sideways when the truck was in the bay.”
The station has since been rebuilt in the same location. “It’s still not one of the biggest stations by any stretch,” Crawford said.
The calendar makes it easy to chart the growth in the area the department serves, which includes Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Millwood, Otis Orchards and portions of unincorporated Spokane County. The department had expanded to six stations by 1961, then stopped. Another new station, Station 7, wouldn’t be added until 1994. Crawford was among those hired that year to increase the number of firefighters the department had.
It would then be another 10 years before another flurry of growth. Station 8 at 2110 N. Wilbur Road was built in 2004. Stations 9 and 10 opened in 2005, but they were different. They started as medic houses in homes the department bought. It has been a point of pride that the department pays cash to buy new trucks and build new stations and there simply wasn’t enough cash on hand to do that much construction quickly.
“It was the way to get us from eight stations to 10 stations,” Crawford said.
Soon the department added fire engines to the medic houses, turning them into full-service fire stations even if they had beefed-up but still small garages. “We bought two fire engines that were small enough to fit,” Crawford said.
A permanent Station 9 was built at 12121 E. 32nd Ave. in 2008 and Station 10 was built at 17217 E. Sprague Ave. in 2010. Crawford now works out of Station 9, which is the department’s southern most station and near its border with Spokane County Fire District 8. The two districts have a mutual aid agreement and often respond to calls in each other’s district.
“We actually run more with Station 84 (in District 8) than we do with Station 1 or Station 7,” Crawford said. “We have a great working relationship with our neighboring district.”
Crawford said he had help putting the calendar into its final form but said he enjoyed doing it.
“It was just a really neat opportunity to tell the story of the fire department,” he said. “It’s been a very satisfying project.”
The calendar is available for free at all Spokane Valley Fire Department stations and the administrative office.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.