Leaders with Clallam County Fire District 3 have asked consultants to reevaluate design work for a proposed new Dungeness fire station, after an initial estimate came in higher than expected.
According to district officials at the March 7 fire commissioner meeting, consultant Rice Fergus Miller of Bremerton estimated the cost for Fire Station 31 at about $5.34 million — more than $3 million than what the district hoped to spend.
“When we met, I told them that wasn’t going to fly,” assistant fire chief Tony Hudson said.
“Obviously, we’ll have to trim or go a different route, but I don’t believe they can cut enough out (of that plan) to make it where we’re comfortable with it.”
District staff said they have about $2 million available to replace Volunteer Station 31 at 4771 Sequim-Dungeness Way. It was built in 1966 and staff report its walls are cracked and the foundation separated from the concrete pad.
A new station would go on 1.9 acres the district owns on East Anderson Road out of the tsunami and flood zone.
They report district has up to a $1 million grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and $1 million district funds available for the project.
However, district officials are still exploring specifics about the grant’s timeline and building requirements, they said at the meeting.
District 3 chief Ben Andrews said the structure would be basic, and not host district paid staff. A new station could include a small meeting room, small kitchen, two bathrooms and a garage for vehicles, according to district staff.
“If this can happen for $1 million of our investment, then we can travel down that road,” Andrews said. “If this becomes too hard, my recommendation is we live with what we have now.”
Dungeness station is currently covered by three volunteer firefighters and three volunteer emergency medical service (EMS) staffers, Andrews said.
Because of a lack of trained firefighters, the community’s water system capabilities and several other factors, the station is a Class Nine rating based on the Washington Surveying and Rating Bureau. Stations are rated 1-10 (best to worst) based on its performance capability, and the rating affects nearby residents’ fire insurance rates.
Andrews said with only six volunteers and no plans to staff the station because of costs, the rating will never be better or worse than nine.
“We may as well occupy it until it falls down; it doesn’t cost much,” he said.
Fire commissioners gave Hudson approval to go back to Rice Fergus Miller with a $2 million building limit.
“They may come back and say this isn’t a fire station,” Andrews said. “If it honestly gets to that point, then the fire station now at least keeps the rain off the apparatus.”
Fire district leaders are also considering options to add a bathroom and bedroom onto Carlsborg Station 33, at 70 Carlsborg Road, while beginning to explore options for a new station next to the district’s Operations and Training Center, 255 Carlsborg Road.
The existing Carlsborg station faces size and structural issues, district leaders previously said.
A Conditional Use Permit was sent to Clallam County planners, Hudson said at the March 7 meeting, as part of a required update of the operations/training property.
As they weigh options, assistant fire chief Dan Orr said in an interview, they’re exploring adding a fourth bedroom and a second indoor bathroom to Station 33 until other construction plans are more defined.
Before any construction projects move forward, Andrews said on March 7, he wants to finish the district’s Comprehensive Facilities Plan.
He said the district will need to weigh if current stations are at the optimum places for response times, and whether or not to remodel or build elsewhere.
Referencing a 2017 study the district commissioned from Fitch and Associates, Andrews said if the district were to hypothetically only build and use three stations, the best places for them would be at Sequim Avenue/U.S. Highway 101, Sequim-Dungeness Way/Woodcock Road, and near the R Corner area.
These locations would reach about 90 percent of the district quickly, he said, based on calls from 2015-16.
Andrews said Station 34 on North Fifth Avenue is not located at the most optimum spot, according to call data and projected growth, while Blyn, Dungeness and Diamond Point stations would only add about 2 percent each to the call loads.
“When looking at $5 million per station for plus two percent, that’s the kind of investment the board has to evaluate,” he said.
Andrews said he wants to analyze updated call logs to see where would be the best locations for fire stations going forward.
On March 8, Orr said structural engineers looked at all the district’s stations to give an assessment of their condition.
For more information about Clallam County Fire District 3, visit ccfd3.org.