Wash. FD plans $550K station remodel for faster decon, more privacy
The remodel will add more separate bathrooms and showers and individual sleeping areas rather than an open dorm
The Daily News, Longview, Wash.
LONGVIEW, Wash. — Plans to add more showers at the Longview Fire Department’s 38th Avenue station will put firefighters “back in service quicker to respond to emergency calls,” Longview Fire Chief Jim Kambeitz said about an upcoming remodel.
The work — scheduled to begin in two weeks — will decrease lag time between when firefighters are waiting to wash up after returning from a call and responding to the next emergency.
The remodel is expected to be completed in about six months.
Crews cannot go to another call until they shower and wash their gear to decontaminate from the carcinogens that land on them during fires, Kambeitz said. While crews wait to wash up, other firefighters — possibly farther away from incidents — may have to respond to a call, he said.
Currently, the 38th Avenue station has one bathroom for an average of five firefighters, which includes one woman. Waiting occurs when different sexes need to use the bathroom as well as during shift changes — where up to five crew members come into work and up to five leave, Kambeitz said.
After the remodel, there will be three separate bathrooms that include a shower, toilet and sink, he said.
The city of Longview is paying nearly $550,000 to add 730 square feet to the northwest section of the station. The buildout will expand the 830-square-foot restroom, dormitory, kitchen and training area, as well as add a new sprinkler system, HVAC and radio equipment, according to city documents.
Longview Public Works Director Ken Hash, who is the interim community development director, said a metal roof also will be installed.
The work will be done by EvoDesign Enterprises of Vancouver, and the money is allocated from the city’s building replacement fund, which is part of the general fund, Hash said.
The city operates two fire stations. The 38th Avenue station was built in 1923 for three firefighters, but now houses an average of five, Kambeitz said.
The station houses more firefighters today because the department has its own ambulance as a backup for its contract with a local ambulance company.
Kambeitz said three people are required to man the fire engine and two for the ambulance.
The department is using the ambulance more each year as more people are staffed. In 2020, the ambulance was staffed 168 days while in 2018 it was staffed 95 days, Kambeitz said.
He said the station received a federal grant about three years ago to hire three additional crew members, but the department cannot always afford to have five people staffed at once, particularly when people take sick or vacation days.
Kambeitz said his goal is to staff the ambulance all the time.
The station currently has one dormitory where firefighters sleep in an open room with separate pods. The station is manned 24/7, so crew members sleep there.
The remodel will add five individual sleeping areas to provide more privacy, particularly for different sexes.
“That’s the way we build modern fire stations,” Kambeitz said.
The department’s first female firefighter was hired in 2019.
(c)2021 The Daily News, Longview, Wash.
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