SPOKANE, Wash.--The possible creation of a regional fire authority on the West Plains will not have any effect on neighbors looking for improved response times in the Eagle Ridge area of Latah Creek.
Homeowners in the Eagle Ridge development along Highway 195 have been concerned that firefighters have to come all the way from Downtown Spokane to respond to an emergency.
Fire officials on the West Plains said there have been talks of consolidation and mergers for years between District 10, Airway Heights and Medical Lake, but that current talks have nothing to do with Eagle Ridge.
Most fire protection on the West Plains comes from volunteers. Medical Lake is 100% volunteer based.
Airway Heights only has four staff firefighters.
“We have to do with just the people on duty, so when we have an incident that takes more than two or three people, we have to rely on our neighbors,” said Airway Heights Fire Chief Mitch Metzger.
That is the reason why both cities and District 10 are looking for an outside study to examine the potential benefits of consolidation.
“Finding more affordable ways to provide public services is becoming really critical,” said Medical Lake City Administrator Doug Ross.
Consolidation could create a standard of service across the West Plains.
“A ladder truck would serve better to the citizens of Medical Lake. Currently, if they need one, the one from Airway Heights has to drive all the way to Medical Lake,” said Metzger
A merger would not affect the fast growing area around Eagle Ridge. Thousands of homeowners there have been asking for a nearby fire station. Homeowners are proposing an alternative response unit stationed at Eagle Ridge to respond to medical emergencies.
The West Plains merger could open the door to a solution down the road.
“We haven't done anything like this in Spokane before, so this could be the catalyst for future consolidation,” said District 10 Deputy Chief Robert Ladd.
The current plan is to have the study done by the end of the summer of 2014. The issue could come before the voters sometime in 2015 if all goes according to plan.