It’s been over a decade in the making, but it only took a day to move in.
And, a few hiccups aside – including an unexpected switch-off by the phone company a few days too early – the new headquarters for the Spokane Valley Fire Department is open and doing business.
Spokane Valley Fire Department staff raise the flag at their new administration building at 2120 N. Wilbur Road on Monday during a low-key dedication ceremony. An open house for the public is planned in the near future. Picture by: Mike Huffman
On Monday, proud fire staff unveiled the 22,988-square-foot majesty of its new administration building at 2120 N. Wilbur, which was constructed at a cost of $164 per foot. On both floors – and basement level – firefighters and support workers dug through boxes of personal items and fired up computers to begin the first full week of operations.
“Last week went surprisingly smooth,” said Larry Rider, deputy fire chief who oversaw the all-brick building’s construction. “I’m absolutely amazed how quick (the move) went.”
The journey to get to this point, however, was anything but expedient.
It was 2001 when fire commissioners and Valley Fire administration began discussing the idea of adding new fire stations and moving the headquarters out of Station 1 at Sprague and Balfour. A year later, the department purchased the property at Montgomery and Wilbur that would house the future Station 8 along with additional space for a future administration building.
The process was accelerated in 2007 when voters approved a levy lid lift that allowed for the department to move forward with the construction of Station 9 and a new Station 6, along with the Greenacres Fire Station and the new administration building. There is no long-term debt for any of the facilities, which were all built during favorable economic conditions that saw low prices for contractors and building materials.
After a brief flag-raising ceremony, Rider led a handful of attendees on a short tour of the new building. First stop was the basement, which houses a workout room – which could later be utilized for additional staff or storage space, if necessary – and a state-of-the-art boiler which heats the structure.
“We can run this whole place without electricity,” Rider said, referring to an external generator that can keep the building running in the event of a natural disaster. The building is also wired with advanced communication capabilities and redundant computer servers that make it possible to be used as a command center during a period of a prolonged power outage.
“In a half-hour this could be an ECC (emergency communications center),” Rider said.
The main floor of the building features the areas where the department will interact with the public, including conference rooms, an expanded commissioners meeting room and an American Disabilities Act-complaint entryway where visitors will see a beam from the World Trade Center on display.
The second floor is mainly offices, including Chief Mike Thompson, Rider and the rest of the command staff. There is also space for the fire commissioners along with a kitchen area.
Rider said the department had explored other options for the administration building – including partnering with the city of Spokane Valley in a structure that could also house a city hall – but ultimately staffers decided the Wilbur location made the most sense.
“It offered us the most flexibility,” he said.
Spokane Valley company Meridian Construction was ultimately awarded the bid to build the administration building along with Station 9. Local masons were contracted, as well, to construct the brick exterior.
“This building is meant to last,” Rider said.