SKFR will shift staff, coverage when Manchester station opens

Station 9, when it opens in Manchester this spring, will cover much of Station 8’s current territory, shown in green. Everything outlined in black will become Station 9’s territory. - Courtesy of SKFR
Station 9, when it opens in Manchester this spring, will cover much of Station 8’s current territory, shown in green. Everything outlined in black will become Station 9’s territory.
— image credit: Courtesy of SKFR

When a remodeled fire station opens in Manchester, it will help distribute the heavy load of emergency calls currently handled by South Kitsap Fire and Rescue’s busiest station.

Positioned in the urban core, Station 31 on Tremont Street received the most calls for service — 2,441 — in 2008, and was also the least “reliable station” based on response times.

“Two-thirds of our calls come from 14 percent of our district,” Deputy Chief Steve Wright told SKFR’s Board of Commissioners this month, referring to the 62 percent of calls that originate from the urban and suburban areas. “Which is good, (because) it isolates the majority of our work in a small space.”

Of the 78,513 people in SKFR’s district, 37,429 live in a rural area, 21,000 live in a suburban area, and 20,080 live in an urban area. And while Wright said the vast majority of the district’s area — 85 percent — is rural, the majority of calls come from the remainder, where 53 percent of the population lives.

And the amount of calls stemming from urban areas can strain the stations located in them: Station 31, and Station 8 on Fircrest Drive just off Mile Hill Drive.

SKFR has seven staffed stations that cover 127 square miles, but last year, Stations 8 and 31 responded to more than half of the district’s total calls: 4,759 of 8,553. As a group, the remaining five stations responded to 3,194 calls.

Wright said this workload will be distributed more evenly when Station 9 in Manchester is converted from a volunteer station to a career-staffed station and operational next April or May.

“We are going to finish the remodel of Station 9 sometime in the spring of 2010,” he said, adding that when it opens, staff there will take over a large portion of Station 8’s current territory, along with some of Station 10’s.

“That will reduce substantially (by 26 percent) the amount of calls for Station 8, and we will shift some of its staffing to Station 31,” Wright said, explaining that two staff members will be moved from Station 8 to 31, increasing its minimum staffing from two to four. “Aid (car) 16 will be moved to Station 31.”

“These are some adjustments we need to do to make our service more effective and efficient,” Wright said. “I am very confident we are going to see continued improvement.”

Wright said Station 8 will not be taking over some of Station 31’s territory, because those boundaries are based on the surrounding roads and the time it takes to travel them.

And while Station 9 is being upgraded to prepare for its new staff members, Station 31 is already equipped to handle more people.

“It is a very good station for a bigger staff of people,” Wright said, explaining that Station 31 has 8 bunks, a large kitchen, and enough space to house SKFR’s new Quint ladder truck.

In the meantime, Wright said Station 9 is being “modernized,” with improvements made to its kitchen, windows and insulation, and a fresh coat of paint. On the outside, Wright said a well is “being capped and an old oil tank is being removed,” but the building will not be expanded. “We are staying right inside the current footprint.”

Wright said nearby residents may notice a large Dumpster at the station as crews remove unnecessary items from the inside.

• Also at the Dec. 10 meeting, SKFR Volunteer Association Battalion Chief Scott Hartley said that the organization’s Breakfast with Santa fundraiser this month fed “less people, but collected more money” than last year. Hartley said the total amount of money collected had not been determined yet, but someone had mailed in a $100 check, and “another gentleman handed us a $200 check, then left without having breakfast.”

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