New fire hall in Snoqualmie replaces antiquated facility

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SNOQUALMIE - Don't ask the Snoqualmie firefighters if they've been decorating their new place.

They're not so sure about the difference between burnt sienna and mocha spice.

Still, the firefighters love their new digs at 37600 S.E. Snoqualmie Parkway. The station's open layout and "brown" walls are a far cry from the 47-year-old fire house they just moved out of - where soot was the new black.

The 15,757-square-foot station on two acres includes plenty of office space, six bedrooms, a massive truck bay, a computer room, conference rooms and a large "day room" and kitchen where the firefighters like to hang out.

The $3.6-million project was paid for by a 2002 tax levy and was just completed last month.

The whole station is designed to accommodate the growth of Snoqualmie projected for the next 20 years, including room for more firefighters. Three firefighters and the fire chief sat on the design committee for the new station to help architects meet the needs of the facility.

As you enter, a roomy foyer looks onto the woods where deer and bear are often spotted. A large conference room, wired for sound, can be divided into two rooms by a moveable wall and will be used for Snoqualmie City Council meetings and training sessions.

A new Emergency Operations Center will serve as the main hub of the city in the case of a major disaster and was outfitted with a special radio system through a grant from the federal government.

A large weight room, filled with $10,000 worth of new equipment and a shower, allows firefighters to work out before their shift. Lieutenant Michael Bailey said the facility is much nicer than the firefighters' old setup that included two machines positioned behind the rigs in the truck bay, which had no exhaust system. The firefighters weren't so fond of "sucking down diesel fumes" during their workout, even though a large Arnold chwarzenegger poster loomed there, inspiring them on.

Though they were planning on it, the station couldn't be built entirely by green construction methods due to expense. Still, some environmentally friendly features have been included, such as radiant floor and ceiling heat and natural ventilation and light.

A 54-inch TV (paid for by the firefighters) opposite four huge recliners is the focal point of the day room. The kitchen has three refrigerators and three large pantries of food, one for each shift, and a massive Wolf oven begs the question - do firefighters cook?

There are five sleeping rooms with a possible sixth, which is currently being used for lockers. Three bathrooms line the walls opposite the bedrooms. A red light comes on in each bedroom when firefighters are called to a job.

The old fire station on River Street failed to meet many of the federal fire station safety codes. A decontamination room complete with a special washing machine for bunker gear is one of the features the new station has that the old one didn't, along with an exhaust system in the truck bay, a fill station for self-contained breathing apparatus and, everyone's favorite, truck bay floor drains.

"It seems like a simple thing, but for us it's huge, it's one of the more exciting things," said Bailey, who noted the firefighters didn't enjoy mopping the floor of their old bay in the mornings after snow and rain would fall off the trucks and onto the floor.

Another large improvement over the last station's truck bay is a design that allows the rigs to pull through instead of having to back up. "It's a lot quicker," Bailey said. The positioning of the new station has also increased service.

"We're more in the center of the city now. With the growth on the Ridge, this is more centrally located," Bailey said.

A combination hose and training tower has windows built in along its side that allow firefighters to do tall building fire drills.

"It's a nice feature for us, we don't have anywhere in the city to train," Bailey said. "We used to have to find old parking lots." Inside, there is a special access to the roof with anchors for high rescue training. A storage room will be equipped with plywood mazes for fire safety search and rescue exercises.

Also new to the fire station is administrative assistant Liz Luizzo. She worked under former city administrator and public safety director Don Isley for five years. In January, she accepted the position at the fire station and has been keeping the firefighters "in line" ever since.

Coming soon to the station are two pieces of art; a bronze sculpture of two crossed axes will grace the front of the station, while the inside will get a stained-glass rending of "The Phoenix Rising."

A public dedication of the new station will take place April 23 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

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