Short-term and long-term strategies adopted
In recent months, the Kirkland City Council considered strategies to set a course for implementing system-wide improvements to the City’s fire and emergency medical services. At the same time, the City Council needed to ensure the intent of an Interlocal Agreement for fire service improvements withformer Fire District #41(FD 41) was fulfilled. On October 20, 2015, following a public hearing, the City Council adopted two resolutions (PDF) that set forth actions in 2015 and 2016 that will improve response time commitments to Finn Hill while better serving the whole city:
In 2015, the City will:
- Purchase property for a new Finn Hill Fire Station 24 near Juanita Elementary School
- Continue staffing a fourth Firefighter at Holmes Point Fire Station 25 and renovate the station to meet current structural and safety standards
- Maintain the existing staff levels atNorth Juanita Fire Station 27 including six Firefighters to serve the north end of the City and Totem Lake
- Suspend the replacement of road barriers with remote-controlled bollards on Finn Hill pending further study and community outreach
- Initiate property search for a new Fire Station 27 east of Interstate 405
Beginning in 2016, the City will:
- Evaluate financing options for construction of new fire stations and renovation and expansion projects of older fire stations
The City of Kirkland Fire Department has long served the north neighborhoods: Finn Hill, North Juanita and Kingsgate. These three areas were annexed into the City in 2011. Prior to annexation, residents within all of Finn Hill and parts of North Juanita and Kingsgate were served by FD 41 through a contract with the City of Kirkland Fire Department. Upon annexation, the City and FD 41 entered into an agreement that allowed Kirkland to assume all responsibilities of the District, including completion of a Fire Strategic Plan and construction of a new Fire Station that would provide improved fire and emergency medical services (EMS) in the Finn Hill areas. The Interlocal Agreement designated that FD41 assets, including proceeds from the sale of bonds, would be used to construct a new “consolidated” fire station which would combine the existing Stations 24 and 25 in a more strategic location on Finn Hill.
The Fire Strategic Plan, and a companion “Standards of Coverage and Deployment” study, has led city officials to pursue an alternative planthat would keep the Holmes Point Fire Station 25 open and relocate the existing Fire Station 24 close to the intersection of 100th Avenue NE and NE 132nd Street near Juanita Elementary School.
Through much study, the City has determined that this “dual station” concept is the best investment to lay the foundation for covering all of the Finn Hill service gaps as well as improving services to the rest of former FD 41 residents and the City as a whole. By adding a fourth Firefighter at Station 25, the crew is able to respond more quickly to fires and require less assistance from other stations, leaving them available for calls in their areas. Once the new Station 24 is built in the Juanita neighborhood, the fourth firefighter from Station 25 will be transferred to the new Station 24 as to help staff the three-person engine company that will further improve service to Finn Hill and Juanita neighborhoods.
The Fire Strategic Plan also recommended that the City consider replacing road barriers erected by King County with bollards that could be controlled remotely from emergency vehicles. While an initial study indicated that the project could improve response times, more recent analysis revealed a variety of challenges that prompted the City to put the project on hold. The project had been funded in the proposed Capital Improvement program, however, staff recommended re-purposing the funding toward the purchase of property for the future Station 27 that will be relocated east of Interstate 405. Before further consideration of changing the barriers, the City will involve affected neighbors to understand their concerns.
This multi-year effort will address a number of recommendations contained in the Fire Strategic Plan and improve service levels throughout Kirkland. FD 41’s bond proceeds and reserves, together with the City reserve contributions of more than a $3 million, enables the City to renovate Station 25 and purchase properties for the relocation of Stations 24 and 27. Dedication of these funding sources provides a significant down payment on improving emergency services for the Kirkland community.