Fire District 7 plans to build new fire hall, close two others

CLEARVIEW — Snohomish County Fire District 7 is moving forward with a plan to build a new fire hall on Fales Road and to close two existing stations.

The district recently purchased 4.9 acres for the new fire station at 19424 Fales Road. Construction could start late next year.

The station will cost between $2.5 million and $3 million, including the land, design and construction, Fire Chief Gary Meek said.

District 7 serves a swath of southeast county from Mill Creek through Cathcart, Clearview and Maltby to the Snohomish River. The western side of the district, near the Bothell-Everett Highway, has seen heavy development, while the eastern half has remained rural, Meek said.

Station 75, serving the areas of Lost Lake and Echo Lake, was historically an all-volunteer station. It was staffed full time using a federal safety grant from late 2008 to late 2011, district spokeswoman Autumn Waite said.

The district stopped staffing the station to help balance the budget and avoid layoffs during the recession, Meek said.

Since then, crews assigned to Station 74 in Maltby have covered Station 75’s service area. Station 74 is assigned a lieutenant, a paramedic and a firefighter around-the-clock.

They are summoned to Station 75’s coverage area, on average, once every other day.

The new station location makes more sense to cover both areas, the chief said.

The district aims to keep its emergency responses within 7.5 minutes — that’s from when firefighters are paged to when they’re knocking on a door. That should be the same for rural and urban neighborhoods, Meek said.

District officials did test drives from the new location, and for the most part, they should be able to stick within that standard, the chief said.

“We’ve been studying it diligently,” he said.

Operating both Stations 74 and 75 would cost about $3 million a year, Meek said. Each station cost about $1.2 million to build. One was built in 2007, the other in 2000.

There are no plans to sell off the two stations when the new one opens, but the district may repurpose those properties, the chief said.

District leaders do not plan to seek any new bond money for the project, he said.

A community meeting on the topic is set for 7 p.m. May 29 at Hidden River Middle School, 9224 Paradise Lake Road, Snohomish.

Fire District 7 employs about 100 people, including firefighters, serving 60 square miles.

The 2014 budget is $18.4 million. The district owns seven fire stations, and all but Station 75 are currently staffed full time.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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