Northwest NEWS

September 2, 2002

Front Page

Fire personnel relocate as district readies for station demolition

by Karen Waddington
   Contributing Writer
   DUVALLIn November 2000, voters passed a $4.2 million referendum by a 70 percent margin allowing for a new fire station to be built that would serve the 50 square miles of Fire District 45.
   The original headquarters, located in downtown Duvall, was built in the mid-60s, and was designed for a volunteer staff with no accommodations for crew quarters. When the station was remodeled in the 90s, the layout and design did not allow for easy access to the new crews' quarters.
   The station's design also does not allow for easy retro-fitting to meet today's codes for seismic stability. A consultant was hired, and it was determined that a retrofit would be too costly, so the decision was made to tear down the existing building and rebuild in the same location.
   So what do you do with all those firefighters for a year while the new building is being built? You move them to a substation on Big Rock Road. Except that it needed a remodel job, too. A day room and portable sleeping quarters needed to be added before the firefighters could move in.
   After a lengthy permit process and a large remodel to make the necessary upgrades and improvements, moving day finally arrived. On Thursday, Aug. 22, four firefighters spent their first full shift at the new station. Workers were still adding the finishing touches even as the firefighters were moving in.
   During the transition, the administrative offices, which include the Chief's office, the Training Captain and Administrative Assistant, will be located on Main Street in Duvall. People will be able to obtain burn permits and get blood pressure checks at that location instead of having to go the Big Rock Road station.
   Chief John Lambert said the new facility will be approximately 13,000 square feet, only slightly larger than the existing 11,000 square feet facility, however it will be laid out much differently and will include a full-size meeting room that will be open to the public.
   Last year alone, Chief Lambert and his crews responded to 883 calls. Sixty-five percent of those calls were medical in nature, only seven percent were fire related. There were 107 traffic accidents with an average response time of 7.28 minutes. Response time for fire calls was 7.83 minutes, but on the east side of the district response time can be as long as 12 to 13 minutes, prompting the need for a substation to handle calls from the east side of the district.
   The fire department has been looking for property that would be suitable for the substation between Lake Marcel and Lake Margaret. There are currently two small substations that the residents have outgrown. The department would like to sell the two small stations and build a larger sub- station in between the two to serve both locations. Neither of the current smaller stations can be remodeled or expanded to service both locations adequately.
   Chief Lambert has assured that the response time from the Big Rock Road station won't be any longer than the current response times and has asked for patience from the public during the construction phase of the project.
   "When it's all built, it's going to be much better," said Lambert.
   With the construction project lasting 10-12 months, the chief is hopeful that they can have the new facility open to the public by late 2003.
   A public hearing was held on Aug. 6 to announce that the winning bid had gone to the Colacurio Brothers who have already built several firehouses in the area. Demolition of the current firehouse headquarters is scheduled for the end of the first week in September.
   Firefighters are asking that anyone with an emergency to please call 911 instead of trying to drive to the Big Rock Road station.
   As one firefighter put it, "It's not worth it [in an emergency] ... we make house calls."
  
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