SEQUIM — Leaders with Clallam County Fire District 3 have asked consultants to reevaluate design work for a tentative new Dungeness fire station after an initial estimate came in higher than expected.
According to district officials at Tuesday’s fire commission meeting, consultant Rice Fergus Miller of Bremerton estimated the cost for fire station 31 at about $5.34 million, more than $3 million over what the district hoped to spend.
“When we met, I told them that wasn’t going to fly,” said Assistant Chief Tony Hudson.
“Obviously, we’ll have to trim or go a different route, but I don’t believe they can cut enough out (of that plan) to make it where we’re comfortable with it.”
District staff said they have about $2 million available to replace Volunteer Station 31 at 4771 Sequim-Dungeness Way.
It was built in 1966 and staff report its walls are cracked and the foundation separated from the concrete pad. A new station would tentatively go on 1.9 acres the district owns on East Anderson Road out of the tsunami and flood zone.
They report the district has up to a $1 million grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and $1 million in district funds available for the project.
However, they’re still exploring specifics about the grant’s timeline and building requirements, they said at the meeting.
Fire Chief Ben Andrews said the structure would be basic and not host paid staff. A new station could include a small meeting room, small kitchen, two bathrooms and a garage for vehicles, according to district staff.
“If this can happen for $1 million of our investment, then we can travel down that road,” Andrews said. “If this becomes too hard, my recommendation is we live with what we have now.”
The Dungeness station is currently covered by three volunteer firefighters and three volunteer emergency medical service technicians (EMS), Andrews said.
Due to its lack of trained firefighters, the community’s water system capabilities and many more factors, the station is a Class Nine rating based on the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau (WSRB). Stations are rated 1-10 (best to worst) based on its performance capability, and the rating affects nearby residents’ fire insurance rates.
Andrews said with only six volunteers and no plans to staff the station due to costs, the rating will never be better or worse than nine.
“We may as well occupy it until it falls down. It doesn’t cost much,” he said.
Fire commissioners gave Hudson approval to go back to Rice Fergus Miller with a $2 million building limit.
“They may come back and say this isn’t a fire station,” Andrews said. “If it honestly gets to that point, then the fire station now at least keeps the rain off the apparatus.”
Fire district leaders also are considering adding a bathroom and bedroom onto Carlsborg Station 33 at 70 Carlsborg Road, and they’re beginning to explore options for a new station next to the district’s Operations and Training Center at 255 Carlsborg Road.
The existing Carlsborg station faces size and structural issues, district leaders have said.
A conditional use permit was sent to Clallam County planners, Hudson said at Tuesday’s meeting, as part of a required update of the operations/training property.
As they weigh options, Assistant Chief Dan Orr said in an interview, they’re exploring adding a fourth bedroom and a second indoor bathroom to Station 33 until other construction plans are more defined.
Before any construction projects move forward, Andrews said Tuesday he wants to finish the district’s Comprehensive Facilities Plan.
He said the district will need to consider if current stations are at the optimum places for response times, and whether or not to remodel or build elsewhere.
Referencing a 2017 study the district commissioned from Fitch and Associates, Andrews said if the district were to hypothetically build and use only three stations, the best places for them would be at Sequim Avenue/U.S. Highway 101, Sequim-Dungeness Way/Woodcock Road and near the R Corner area.
Those locations would reach about 90 percent of the district quickly, he said, based on calls from 2015-16.
Andrews said Station 34 on North Fifth Avenue is not located at the most optimum spot, according to call data and projected growth, and the Blyn, Dungeness and Diamond Point stations would add only about 2 percent each to the call loads.
“When looking at $5 million per station for plus 2 percent, that’s the kind of investment the board has to evaluate,” he said.
Andrews said he wants to analyze updated call logs to see where the best locations would be for fire stations going forward.
On Wednesday, Orr said structural engineers looked at all the district’s stations to give an assessment of their condition.
For more information on Clallam County Fire District 3, visit https://ccfd3.org.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.