Citing long response times, Spokane community lobbies for new fire house



Posted on April 5, 2013 at 5:57 PM

Updated Monday, Nov 25 at 2:43 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- When callers dial 911, they expect help right away.

That doesn’t always happen in one part Spokane, where it takes a little longer. In some cases, a lot longer.

Homeowners in Latah Valley have actually been pushing for their own fire station for more than a decade. They say it was promised under old city council leadership. As the Eagle Ridge neighborhood continues to grow, patience is running out.

Residents rely on the closest fire station for help now, which is in Downtown Spokane. The response time can be a minimum of 10 minutes, if not more. It feels like an eternity to some people who wait for help to arrive.

“Last summer we had an issue with my baby daughter. She fell out of bed, and it was about 30 minutes,” Brent Deck said.

He claims the lack of a nearby fire station caused his insurance rates to nearly double, too.

“The fire rating changed to a 9-C, which is basically the worst you can have. It’s the same as being out in the county, and as you can see, this is not the country,” he said.

The homeowners association has launched a letter writing campaign to urge city council members to make creating a new station a reality.

“We held that off our development for many years, and there wasn’t an interest from the city,” Eagle Ridge Board President Lori Henriksen said.

The fire department recognizes the area has a growing need. They say in any fire call, the goal is to have a full response crew on the scene within 11 minutes.

“For us to achieve that in the Eagle Ridge area, it’s almost 20 minutes, plus,” Brian Schaeffer with the Spokane Fire Department said. “We’re just trying to keep up with the largest area of our calls.”

Calls for service citywide are up 11 percent, but the department says until funding follows suit, people in Eagle Ridge will just have to keep waiting.

The fire department believes it would cost $1 million a year to staff a new fire house, on top of the $3 to $4 million it would cost to build and equip it.

The district’s two city council members have agreed to sit down with Eagle Ridge homeowners on Monday to hear their concerns.