01 Mar Jonathan Cartu Says: Construction to start this year on 2 Pasco fire stations
Navigating the intersection of Road 68 and Burden Boulevard is a headache for many drivers.
It’s one of the most notorious crossroads for congestion in the Tri-Cities.
Now, imagine your life depending on a fire truck or ambulance pushing through that traffic in a rush to help you.
Pasco Fire Chief Bob Gear says that’s happening more and more with the addition of retail and housing projects north of Interstate 182 while the closest city fire station is south of the highway.
So, the Pasco City Council agreed the time is critical to build a new fire station north of the busy retail junction — even if it already has a station less than 2 miles away.
This month, the city awarded the first contract on the $4.7 million project, paid through selling general obligation bonds. The four-bay station will be in the shadow of the city water towers at the corner of Road 76 and Sandifur Parkway.
“Probably 75 percent of the calls for Station 83 are north of the freeway. North of the freeway is just a lot higher density,” Gear told the Tri-City Herald. “South of the freeway, a lot of that developed in the county as low-density development.”
Because much of the area south of the interstate is in the county, Franklin County Fire District 3 covers more of that area.
Still, the city will keep its two-bay station south of the highway, which was built in the mid-90s before the retail stores and homes sprang up around Road 68, Gear said.
The new station will house two fire engines — one for buildings and one for grass fires — and an ambulance, which were at the other station.
The fourth bay will house another fire engine or ambulance as needed as the area grows.
“I’m trying not to build these and fill them up the day we move in,” Gear said. “Adding another bay doesn’t add that much to the building.”
Chervenell Construction of Kennewick is starting work on the 10,000-square-foot building.
First of two stations
Pasco also plans to add a second station later this year.
The fire department aims to replace the Road 48 station with one at Road 52 and Court Street.
The former Franklin County Fire District 3 station was never meant to be a permanent solution to the city’s needs when it annexed the area. The city also bought the nearby home and connected them until a new station could be built.
The council plans to approve a contract for the estimated $10 million building sometime in May and begin construction this summer. The two new stations will have similar designs.
And Gear hopes the currently planned projects serve their needs for the next 50 years.
Construction on both could take up to a year.
Faster response to emergencies
The Road 48 station has done a lot to improve response times throughout the Riverview area in the city limits, Gear said.
And the replacement on Court Street is expected to get crews to emergencies even faster.
It also will consolidate the fire department’s administrative offices, including the fire chief’s office, into a single building.
Right now, there are administrators on Ainsworth Street and at the Oregon Street fire station.
While the two fire stations will help firefighters get to emergencies faster, city leaders will need yet another fire station if they want to keep their current fire preparedness rating.
The Washington Survey & Rating Bureau (WSRB) determines how well a city or a fire district can respond to a fire and share that information with insurance companies, which use it to set homeowners insurance rates.
The better the response time the better the rates.
Pasco rose two ranks to a Level 3 in recent years, which is its best ranking in the city’s history.
To keep the rating, the city will need a fifth…