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City presents design for new Redmond Fire Station 17

Redmond Fire Captain Tom Langton explains the process of constructing the new Redmond Fire Station 17 at a City Hall meeting on June 25. He said the new station will dramatically improve medical response times in the north end of Education Hill, south English Hill and the north end of Avondale Road and Red-Wood Road corridors within Redmond. - Mary Stevens Decker, Redmond Reporter
Redmond Fire Captain Tom Langton explains the process of constructing the new Redmond Fire Station 17 at a City Hall meeting on June 25. He said the new station will dramatically improve medical response times in the north end of Education Hill, south English Hill and the north end of Avondale Road and Red-Wood Road corridors within Redmond.
— image credit: Mary Stevens Decker, Redmond Reporter

A proposed design for the new Redmond Fire Station 17 was presented at an informational meeting on June 25 at Redmond City Hall. Funds for construction will come from the city's capital improvement budget and funding for aid car personnel was approved by voters in fall 2007.

The city anticipates breaking ground in mid-2010 and opening the fire station in mid-2011, to be continuously staffed by two firefighter/EMTs with an aid car. The purpose is to improve medical response times in the north end of Education Hill, southern portions of English Hill and the north end of the Avondale Road and Red-Wood Road corridors within Redmond city limits.

About 75 percent of Redmond Fire's calls are for medical assistance. Fire Station 17 will initially provide only that type of service, but the facility will be large enough to accommodate additional personnel and firefighting apparatus if such needs become apparent in the future.

A noteworthy change in the plans for Fire Station 17 is that the site has moved one lot west of the original parcel on the south side of the roadway in the 17000 block of Northeast 116th Street. The new site is located at 16859 NE 116th St.

Presenters at the fire station meeting, including Redmond Fire Captain Tom Langton, project manager Lisa Singer of Redmond Public Works and project architects Myles Huddart and Brian Harris of TCA Architecture Planning, explained that the new site provides room for a more efficient fire station design and is also less wooded, which will minimize environmental impact and cost of development. The station will be built to remain useful for up to 50 years, with durable exteriors and roof "to reduce ongoing costs to citizens by planning for future growth," said Langton.

"We're looking at putting a park in front, maybe incorporate the 'one percent for arts' concept," Langton added. But the main benefit of the station is "reducing response times significantly," in the areas which are now primarily served by the downtown Redmond Fire Station 11 and Woodinville Fire and Life Safety Station 33 in the Bear Creek neighborhood.

Langton cited the Emerald Heights Retirement Community on Education Hill as an example of the need for better response times.

Presently, responses to Emerald Heights are in the range of seven-to-eight minutes, he noted. When Fire Station 17 is operational, that time should be whittled down to two or two-and-a-half minutes. Overall, Langton stated, response times in the service area should go down to about four minutes, rather than the current seven-and-a-half.

"We want to be good neighbors, good stewards," Langton continued, referring to the Fire Station 17 site which will "rely on landscape to absorb sound. ... We also need to deal with storm water. Most existing trees are on the perimeter. We'll capture a lot of water in a cistern for irrigation and to wash trucks, as a responsible gesture."

Before construction of the new fire station begins, a house on the site will be used for fire and police training operations such as hose lays, search-and-rescue or the discharge of compressed foam (used to extinguish wildfires). Langton said such materials would be contained on the site, not released into streams and that neighbors would always be notified in advance about any out-of-the-ordinary activities.

"We also need to practice breaking down doors or walls but will give neighbors a heads-up on our training schedules. They can always stop by with questions," he promised.

The house might possibly be demolished through a controlled burn exercise, for the purpose of training fire investigators. However, that would not be done if asbestos or other hazardous materials were found within the house. As for the original parcel of land intended for Fire Station 17, it can be used a staging area for the construction company until the project is completed, said Singer and Redmond Mayor John Marchione. Afterward, according to Marchione, the City Council would discuss whether to sell that land or retain it for another purpose.

Huddart showed the proposed design for Fire Station 17 with drive-around paving and the apparatus base located at the rear of the building. In front of the building will be some visitor parking spaces and a secure gate to separate visitor from crew parking. The main entry will have a public lobby with a rest room and a station for courtesy blood-pressure checks.

"There's also a public area, right now designated as a rain garden, maybe with public art, an interactive or educational portion," said Huddart. "A second rain garden in back would also be a way to filter storm water."

Existing vegetation will be saved and other trees will be added to serve as a buffer. In some cases, mature trees may be temporarily relocated and then returned to the property.

The 15,000-square-foot-plus facility will have a partial second floor. "Some functions for best response time are on the ground floor for quick access to apparatus. The footprint of the building is really more like 11,000 square feet," Huddart explained. "Some areas need to be higher to store apparatus. We're trying to keep the two-story part in back of the site to keep the front more sympathetic to residential (neighbors)."

The front of the building will face north and utilize a lot of glass to increase daylighting and save energy. Sleep rooms in back won't need a lot of windows.

"We're striving for sustainable, energy-efficient ...to save heat," said Huddart.

Another measure being considered is a ground source heat pump or geothermal system for heating and cooling. This will depend on soil conditions, he added.

Replying to questions about noise or traffic, Langton said the drive-around apparatus base eliminates vehicle back-up noise and when getting out of the driveway, "we won't have to flag people and stop traffic on 116th."

He said he knows that sirens are a concern, but at night or even in the daytime, sirens won't be used if not needed.

Comments and questions about Fire Station 17 may be directed to Redmond Fire Captain Tom Langton at (425) 556-2217 or tlangton@redmond.gov; or to project manager Lisa Singer at (425) 556-2723 or lsinger@redmond.gov.

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