New fire hall, new fire trucks on display at open house

Douglas Okanogan Fire District No. 15 patrons and Pateros residents got a look at the just-completed fire hall and brand-new fire trucks at an open house Saturday, Oct. 18.

District voters approved a construction and equipment bond in 2006; it paid for the new fire hall, a new "interface" engine that is stationed in Methow, a new rescue rig in Brewster and two wildland fire (brush fire) trucks and equipment for them. A third brush truck was purchased with a grant, and district officials bought a fourth truck, used, for $1 and outfitted as a brush truck. Some of the bond money was used to purchase equipment for them also. "I think the (fire district) commissioners did a good job managing their pennies," said Joe Kitzman, who's the fire chief for Methow.

"Long time coming," said Jerry Moore of the fire hall; Moore is on the Pateros Fire Department and a former chief, and he said a new fire hall was first proposed in 1994. Eight rigs are stored in the new facility, ranging from a structure engine to the district's tanker and the city's emergency response rig. Previously some of that equipment had to be stored outside; there wasn't room in the city-owned facility at Pateros City Hall. Moore said that when the tanker was stored outside it had to be drained in winter; if it was needed firefighters had to fill it first, which slowed down response. Now they can just roll up the doors and go.

There's also a meeting room, an office and a storage bay (a really, really big storage bay) over the meeting room. (It's nice and bright, with lots of big windows. It's brighter in the new hall with the lights off than it was in the old hall with the lights on, said Ray Sandy, who's on the fire department.) The project came in almost exactly on bid; the bid was $729,000, with less than $500 in change orders.

The new interface engine in Methow is designed to take development in the area into account; there are new houses being built between Pateros and Methow, and there aren't any water lines or fire hydrants around. The new engine is designed to fight structure fires and help fight wildland fires in those conditions.

And it's brand new, new-car smell and everything. "Methow has never had a new fire truck, ever," Kitzman said. It was so big district officials had to modify on the door on the Methow fire hall. The new rescue rig is stationed in Brewster and carries rescue equipment--including the really cool stuff, like the whitewater rescue package, the stretcher designed for carrying people out of roadless areas and the extrication equipment. It's also got a 300 gallon water tank and carries fire hose, to clean up fuel spills at accident scenes or fight fires.

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