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Fall City fire station revamp adds needed room

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FALL CITY - The days of sharing one small administrative office and not having dedicated sleeping quarters are over for the Fall City Fire Department.

Although there are a couple of small details to complete - like fine tuning the heating system - work on the new fire station revamp has wrapped and crews are enjoying an additional 6,000 square feet courtesy of a voter-approved $2.1-million bond passed in 2001.

The original station was built in 1976 for the then all-volunteer department. With the area expanding and full-time firefighters added in the mix, the department outgrew its digs and King County Fire District 27 went to the voters three years ago for needed revamp funds.

With only one 8-foot by 14-foot administrative office, the old station found desks and work stations set up in unusual places, including in the truck bay.

Today the department's 13 volunteers, four recruits and seven full-time firefighters have a 12,000-square-foot facility that offers conference rooms, office space, dedicated bedrooms and a small weight room.

The biggest benefit of the new space, said Fire Chief Chris Connor, is the sleeping area for the overnight shift.

In February, the department switched from calling in volunteers for calls at night to having a dedicated, full-time firefighter and two volunteers sleeping at the station. The move occurred during construction, so to accommodate the change cots were set up in a meeting room. The conditions weren't conducive to sleep, said Connor.

"Without question we would not have been able to have people here overnight for very long [without the revamp]," said Connor.

For Fall City residents, the staffing switch has found a significant reduction in response time at night.

Connor said when volunteers were called during night events, it took between 3-5 minutes for them to get to the station and on the road. With the new rotation, Connor said, the turnaround time on calls at night is between 60-90 seconds.

Although the station hosted a public open house last weekend, Connor said the facility belongs to the taxpayers and the public is welcome to stop by any time to look over the facility. If the firefighters aren't out on a call, Connor said, a tour can be arranged.

As for the future, Connor said he's pleased that the building will fit the department's needs for at least 20 years.

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