New electronic signs at Fire Stations improve communication

A reader asked a question regarding the new electronic signs at some fire stations around town. The question was posted on our recent story, Kirkland Makes Deep Cuts in Service Levels in Effort to Balance Budget, so we forwarded it to the City of Kirkland. The City's response is below:

Q: Will someone please explain why fancy new electronic signs have been installed at the fire stations? How much did they cost? I don’t need the information they post–date, time, temperature. What a waste at a time like this.

A: We contacted the City of Kirkland for an answer to your question. Deputy Fire Chief Helen Ahrens-Byington responds as follows:

Hello Mr. Butcher,

I am a Deputy Fire Chief for the City of Kirkland and I am also the City Emergency Manager.  This sign project is an Office of Emergency Management capital improvement project to improve emergency-disaster communication with the community.  The project is not complete at this time and the current message is just a test message.  I appreciate the question because it means the signs are being seen.  These signs are located on main roads in the City and are tied to a facility with a generator so they will function even if power is out.

An important by-product of these signs is that they will be used for non-emergency communication during non disaster times.  This is an important feature, if citizens get use to seeing information about things like City events and road closures during non emergency times then they are more likely to look for information there during an emergency or disaster.

During and after a disaster communication with the community is critical.  With the completion of this project the ability to communicate with a large section of the community is improved.

The original project was approved for $220,000 for the complete project, $150,000 for 4 signs.  The sign bid came in at $90,542 for 5 signs – adding one on NE 124 at North Kirkland Community Center.  Many City Departments are involved in completing this project, assisting to keep the total cost down.  I do not have a final right now because the project is still open.  Also the sign at Station 27 on NE 132 will not be completed until after June 1, 2011 (annexation).

Please let me know if you would like any further details,

Helen Ahrens-Byington

Admin. Deputy Fire Chief / City Emergency Manager

City of Kirkland Fire and Building Department