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North Bend's new Fire Station 87 opens doors during Block Party Saturday | Photo gallery
North Bend firefighters moved into the shiny new Station 87 last week and were happy to find they had lost some things in the move. No rat pictures hanging from the ceilings to indicate where the traps were, and no stairs anywhere in the building. No cramped quarters in the sleeping area, or in the equipment bays, and no more nagging worries about what an earthquake or flood might do to their station.
The feeling of the old station was missing, though, too.
“There were a lot of memories in that place,” said Acting Lieutenant Bob Venera, who’s been a part of the station since the early 1970s.
That was when his dad, Jerry, joined as a volunteer firefighter. “Part of the neat thing about it was, while a dump, it had an area upstairs where every morning, we’d sit around on a bunch of sofas, and just talk.”
“We’d go over every morning, what’s broken, what’s fixed, operational plans for the day… but the environment was just much more … a social station,” added Firefighter Cody Ramstad.
The new building, shared by North Bend, Fire District 38 and Bellevue Paramedics, is starting to feel more homey with touches from the old station, like the hand-carved wood sign by Adi Hienzsch that now hangs in the equipment bay, and the painstakingly restored 1907 hose cart stationed out front, but it’s the grand opening Saturday that will really connect the place with the community.
Eastside Fire & Rescue invites the public to tour the new station, enjoy refreshments, visit with firefighters and explore the engines from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at the stationa, 500 Malone Grove Road, North Bend.
Above, crews have the space and technology to work in a new project room, where staff can gather for training or to complete reports.
On their self-guided tours, guests will find the most current Eastside Fire & Rescue standards in fire station construction and technology, from the concrete floors throughout—“We’re not putting carpet in the facilities any more,” says Deputy Chief Bud Backer, for ease of cleaning and decontamination—to the six well-insulated individual sleeping rooms for crew members.
Each room is sound-proofed, and individual controls panels will sound the alarm and turn on lights in only the rooms needed when a call comes in. Since paramedics and firefighters don’t always respond to all of the same calls, the other responders can keep sleeping, Backer said—probably. “They’re still firemen bouncing off walls,” he said.
There’s more than the obvious advantage to this feature, he added. “If you aren’t being dispatched, you don’t get that adrenalin rush.. that kind of takes a toll on the heart.”
A beaver mascot lounges in one of the heavy-duty recliners in the new fire station great room. The toy was part of the construction project, used by the company to encourage workers to keep their eyes open, looking for the beaver. He stayed behind because the station is his home now, too.
A fully-equipped workout room at the new station helps firefighters stay in shape for the average of five calls a day that the North Bend station receives.
A real live place to store bunker gear, and speed up the long drying time, is one of the best things about the new fire station, which firefighters began moving into early last week.
Ramstad said the individual rooms were probably his favorite change from the old building, since now he can sleep, “even if somebody snores.”
A workout room—“like a miniature Gold’s Gym,” Backer says, modern kitchen, offices, training and work spaces, and plenty of unisex restrooms are also part of the living quarters. But Backer thinks the best changes from the old station are on the equipment side.
“This is actually my favorite room,” he says, opening a door on the far side of the equipment bay. Inside are industrial-strength racks stacked with firefighters’ helmets, coats, boots, gloves, and more. “A real live place to store your bunker gear.”
The racks are designed to allow better airflow through the heavy layers of firefighting gear, and since firefighters have only two sets of bunker gear, but average five calls a day, fast-drying is important. It’s also handy for the volunteer firefighters, who park just outside the gear room when they are responding to calls.
Next to this room, there are rooms for cleanup and decontamination, an air compressor station for filling air bottles, a generator wired into the building, and lots of storage for all the stuff that used to be stacked in the bays.
Out in the equipment bay, there’s enough space for everything on wheels—Venera’s favorite part about the new station, “lots of room in the ap bay.” With drive-through parking, the ladder truck, engine, aid car, water tender and paramedic units are always lined up, ready to go.
Also, “the bays are deep enough so the (water) tender and the engine can be double-stacked,” Backer said, in case some day, they get an extra-long ladder truck, which is possible. “We’re thinking this is a 50-year fire station,” Backer said, “and if somewhere in that 50 years there’s a population explosion, … you could run another engine company out of here. We could have two crews run out of this one station, plus the paramedic unit.”
There’s no question the new station is an improvement over the previous one, parts of which date back to 1939. The old 87 sits in a floodplain and only two thirds of it are expected to survive a significant earthquake. The new one is “well equipped and well put together,” says North Bend Public Works Director Frank Page, and more centrally located to North Bend’s population growth, Backer said.
All good things, but Page’s favorite part of the project, which he took on about a third of the way through when he joined the city staff last October, is the cost.
“It’s coming in way below what they thought,” he said last week, although the figures haven’t been finalized. The project “… had a 3 percent contingency, and we’ve used less than half of that.”
The $4.1 million Station 87 was built as a joint effort between the city of North Bend, and Fire District 38, whose staff share the station, along with the Bellevue paramedics providing Advanced Life Support in the area. Voters from both districts overwhelmingly approved the $5 million bond in a Feb. 8, 2011, vote.
North Bend installed a webcam so residents could see the fire station take shape. The city now has posted time-lapse videos of the construction on the website. See the video at http://wa-northbend.civicplus.com/MediaCenter.aspx.