The following is a press release from the City of Kirkland. Images are from the Standards of Coverage and Deployment Plan (link in final paragraph):
Kirkland’s proposed budget funds North End Fire Station and keeps enhanced staffing to better serve Finn Hill and Juanita Neighborhoods
Fire Station 24 building to be sold
The City of Kirkland’s preliminary budget for 2015-2016 proposes $3 million towards completion of a new fire station in the north end of the City and recommends over a million dollars in continued funding of a fourth firefighter position to serve the Finn Hill and Juanita Neighborhoods. If the proposal in the Budget is approved by the City Council, the station funding would be combined with $5.3 million in debt and cash reserves that were set aside by the former King County Fire District #41 to be invested in a new consolidated station.
The plan of Fire District #41 was to close Station 24 and Station 25 and replace them with a new fire station centrally located on Finn Hill. The consolidated station would have improved service in some areas of Finn Hill but would have created slower response times in others. The Kirkland City Council instead chose a “dual station” option that keeps Station 25 open and builds a new station to provide better service to all of Finn Hill, and Juanita and provide back-up for Station 27.
“For the past several years, the City has been working with Finn Hill residents on a siting study to locate a fire station that provides timely fire and emergency medical response times to the largest possible area in the north end of Kirkland,” notes Kirkland Fire Chief Kevin Nalder. “The dual station concept of maintaining Fire Station 25 at its current location and building a new fire station in the northwest area of the City will provide better service to more residents.” Fire Station 24 would be sold and replaced with the new station.
The City Council will receive an update on the evaluations of several possible station sites at its November 18, 2014 meeting. The City Council continues its budget deliberations and will be holding a Budget public hearing on November 18. Public comment about the proposed fire station and staffing funding is welcomed.
In order to fully fund a new North End Fire Station, it will be necessary for the City to sell the Fire Station 24 building. The volunteer Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) program, based out of Fire Station 24, will be reassigned to the City’s Fire Corps program beginning January 1, 2015.
“The City’s volunteer program has been enhanced by our volunteer EMTs,” notes Nalder. “The City and community appreciate the response support they have provided the Fire Department.” The Department will hold a volunteer appreciation for the volunteer EMT’s as they make their transition to new program areas such as CPR training.
In anticipation of selling Station 24 and ending the volunteer EMT program, the 2013-2014 Budget funded a pilot program for a fourth firefighter 24 hours a day at the Finn Hill Fire Station (#25) to provide two professional Fire/EMT crews at all times. This pilot proved successful in improving response capabilities without having to call on other stations for assistance.
The 2013-2014 adopted Budget and the proposed 2015-2016 Budget dedicates more than 57% of the General Fund budget to public safety which is consistent with the priorities of Kirkland residents as indicated in citizen surveys commissioned by the City.
The Fire Department Strategic Plan, adopted in 2013, identified several response time gaps, including north Finn Hill which prompted a Standards of Coverage and Deployment Plan. The Coverage Study identified the option to build and staff a new fire station (replacing Fire Station 24), while maintaining Fire Station 25 by redeploying existing personnel. The City’s short term plan is to move forward on this concept. The Deployment Plan recommends that in the long-term, the City moves Fire Station 27 to the east side of I-405 to address a coverage gap in the northeast area of Kirkland. For more information about the Finn Hill Fire Station Siting process, go to www.kirklandwa.gov/fire.