Clallam County Fire District 3 set to expand

With the population of

Sequim and its surrounding area growing, Clallam County Fire District No.3 has to grow, too.

Ten years ago the district was averaging 2,705 calls a year but today that number has nearly doubled. In 2007, the fire district received 4,792 calls. According to Chief Steven Vogel, 80 percent of the calls received are for medical-related emergencies and 60 percent of those calls require advanced life support. Such increases have put a strain on the district, forcing it to expand its facilities, increase manpower and update equipment.

Vogel says his goal is to dramatically cut down on the district’s response time to emergencies. It takes a fire truck 18 minutes to get from the Sequim station to Diamond Point. Vogel wants to see the time cut down to eight or nine minutes.

“Our future goal is to get all our highway stations manned,” said Vogel. “In the end, quicker response times means saving lives and saving property.”

The district has a number of projects to facilitate its continuing growth.

The district is nearing completion on its maintenance and training facility located on Carlsborg Road.

The project has been in the works for four years, only one of which has been spent on actual construction. The project is being done in phases. Phase one, which was recently completed, was the construction of the district’s maintenance facility (like an auto shop). Phase two, which is set for completion this year, will be construction of a training facility. The district plans to erect a stainless steel fire building that they will set ablaze to train firefighters. The third and fourth phases will involve building a full-fledged station and administrative offices on the 9.5-acre parcel.

“But that’s beyond my time, that’s a long ways off,” Vogel pointed out.

The district also has been working with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe to construct a manned station in Blyn. The tribe plans to build a seven-story hotel resort and expand its casino. With earnings from the casino, the tribe will build the fire district a station, putting some $800,000 into the project. The tribe’s funding will be largely for the building exterior, while the district will put $200,000-$300,000 toward the station’s interior. The fire district plans to enter into a 99-year lease with the tribe. The entire project should be completed by April. Vogel says he wants to man the station with career firefighters rather than volunteers and that the district is looking at ways to fund additional firefighters.

The district also is looking at rebuilding its Diamond Point station, which Vogel believes is in such disrepair that it shouldn’t even be used.

“We can’t expand on it. It’s a tight building,” said Vogel.

According to Vogel, a developer has wanted to buy the building and land to make an access road for an airplane runway and the district is in talks with the developer to work out an agreement.

“If he wants the fire station, he’s going to have to give us some land and build us a new station,” said Vogel during a recent presentation to the Sequim-Dungeness Hospital Guild.

Vogel said that in 2008 the district also plans to purchase two new trucks and equip the entire fleet with foaming capabilities. Using foam to put out a fire is an efficient alternative to water. A truck of foam equals three to four trucks of water.

See related story on page A-12.

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