Cheney Free Press -

By Lee Hughes
Staff Reporter 

Fire District 3 dedicates first fully-staffed station

 

Spokane County Fire District 3 achieved a major milestone in its 74-year history on Monday with the first raising of the American flag over its newly renovated Station 33 in Four Lakes.

“We’ll be staffing it 24/7, 365 days a year,” District 3 Battalion Chief Tom Brunke said. “And we will aid them with volunteers on-shift.”

One of 10 fire stations in the sprawling district’s 565 square mile area of responsibility, it’s the first-ever fulltime fire house, called a combination station because it will be continually staffed by both career and volunteer firefighters.

Three career fire captains will rotate on a 24-hour shifts while being supported by part time paid volunteers who will work 12-hour shifts with the duty captain.

The three captains assigned to Station 33 are new hires who recently completed a 12-week regional academy in Spokane, according to Brunke.

The development of the station has been in the works for years, Brunke said, as the West Plains grew along with a corresponding increase in call volumes.

“It’s growing 18 percent every two years, that’s what we’re seeing,” Brunke said of the rise in calls.

The four-bay station will include a ladder truck, a pumper tender, an attack truck and a new rescue truck for use in medical rescues such as vehicle accidents.

The district may add more fully staffed combination stations in the future as West Plains growth continues.

“We’ll be looking at that,” Brunke said.

The next combination station will likely be in Medical Lake, at least if an August ballot measure to annex the Medical Lake Fire Department into District 3 is approved by voters.

If approved, District 3 has committed to renovating the existing Medical Lake fire station to include living quarters for full-time firefighters that will be operated under the same 24/7 model as Station 33.

District officials estimated it will take about a year to complete the Medical Lake renovations.

Station 33 will respond to Medical Lake calls during the interim, with response times running in the 5-6 minute range, cutting in half response times under the all-volunteer model, where response times must factor in the time it takes for volunteers to drive to their assigned station.

Station 33 currently responds to about 600 calls annually, Brunke said.

Volunteers are assigned to a specific station based on geography — the distance from their home to their assigned station. At a minimum they must respond to 20 percent of the calls they receive and attend at least half of the three monthly training assignments.

Lee Hughes can be reached at lee@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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