SPOKANE, Wash. — As work continues on the Hatch Road bridge project, fire agencies impacted by the closure are also having to adjust their operations.
Right now the bridge connecting Hatch Road and U.S. 195 is closed, cutting off the commute for some and part of Spokane County Fire District 8 (SCFD8) from the rest of its jurisdiction.
“The west boundary for us is actually on the other side of 195,” said SCFD8 Fire Chief Lonnie Rash.
So what happens when part of the fire district is cut off from the rest?
According to Rash, not much and that's good news: “And the reason for that is that we have great cooperation with other agencies. And we, regardless of this closure, still send the closest unit available.”
The closest units could potentially come from Spokane County Fire District 3 or from Spokane Fire Department’s Station 5.
According to Spokane Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer, “So if you go into our computer aided dispatch program right now, you'd be able to see that there's been a barrier created due to this construction and the computer will pick the closest unit based on their actual location to the emergency.”
Because of that, both Chief Schaeffer and Chief Rash don't expect call and response times to change for them.
They do, however, expect the project to have an impact on some of the calls after it's finished thanks to a new right-hand turn lane.
“It should make it much safer. We've had a lot of accidents at this intersection,” said Chief Schaeffer.
“It's a reasonably narrow or fairly narrow bridge area there in that turn. There's not a lot of room. So when we bring larger apparatus through it, it does get a little congested. So it will be helpful long term.”
The Hatch Road bridge closure is expected to last for about four months. However, that means the reopening date is right in the middle of fire season.
Both Chief Rash and Chief Schaeffer recommend signing up with Alert Spokane to get emergency alerts and warning notifications. They also suggest taking the time now to figure out evacuation routes of the area in case of emergency.