By Ann McCreary
At recent meetings to review architectural plans for a proposed new fire hall, Okanogan County Fire District 6 commissioners identified some changes aimed at reducing building costs.
Commissioners met twice over the past week to discuss plans for the station prior to approving a final construction bid package. District officials said the commissioners would discuss the station design and proposed changes again at their regular meeting next Monday (March 9).
Among the changes identified by commissioners at a workshop meeting Monday (March 2) are using cement for floors and showers rather than tile as proposed in the drawings; leaving open ceilings rather than drywall ceilings in the fire engine bays; using less-expensive countertop materials; and making an underground water tank an alternate option in the bid package.
At a special meeting on Feb. 25, Commissioner Darold Brandenburg led a discussion of possible design changes for the station, including the possibility of eliminating the lobby and reception areas.
After evaluating the various rooms and room sizes in the 12,000-square-foot building, Brandenburg said he concluded that they are “mostly necessary.”
Some people have questioned the need for two bunkrooms to sleep four people, Brandenburg said. However, he said, they would allow volunteers to stay overnight in shifts and improve response time.
“When tones go off, two seconds later he’s got his gear and is running to the truck. When the others show up he’s got the truck out and running,” Brandenburg said.
Spaces such as the hose storage room will allow firefighters to clean hoses indoors, rather than outside in sometimes freezing temperatures as they have to now at the Winthrop station, Brandenburg said.
The proposed new station would replace the Winthrop station that district officials say is too small and poses safety hazards to volunteer firefighters.
Commissioners also supported the need for a kitchen area, which has been questioned by some people, they said.
“It’s a place to fix food in a family-like setting,” Roy Reiber said.
Architect George Watson told commissioners that it would take about a month after the bid package is ready to receive bids from contractors.
If the bids come in higher than anticipated “we’ll just refuse [the bids] and cut back,” said Commissioner Jerry Palm.
Commissioners have said that receiving bids will provide them the information they need to determine if they can build the station as it is currently proposed. The cost of the project has been estimated at $2 million to $2.5 million, not including interest on repayment of loans for the project.
District Chief Don Waller said he is preparing a loan application to the state treasurer’s office, which has previously loaned the district money for fire trucks.