New Naches fire station bond brings hope to its volunteer firefi - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

New Naches fire station bond brings hope to its volunteer firefighters

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NACHES, WA - Next month, Yakima County voters will decide to pass or reject 10 propositions in a special election. 9 of those propositions are levies for local school districts. The last one is a bond, and its fate will affect anyone who uses Highway 12.

Naches is a small town with barely 800 people. Right in the heart of it is Yakima County Fire Protection District #3, in a building that was never meant to be a fire station.

"It started out life as a grocery store," said Fire Chief Alan Baird.

For the last 55 years, volunteers rush to the district 3 station to help strangers on their worst days.

"You couldn't find a more dedicated group than a bunch of volunteers that really love to do what they're doing," Chief Baird said.

Naches Fire/Rescue, YCFD 3, provides fire, EMS, and technical rescue services from about 4 miles south of Naches on Highway 12 to the summit of White Pass and the Lewis County Line.

Trying to build a new fire station has been in the works since 2007-08.

"To store vehicles and operate as a fire station (the building) has done a really good job over the years until recently."

The 70-year-old building is bursting at the seams. A facility review found a number of critical safety and operational issues with the current station: There are traffic safety concerns when vehicles leave and come back to the station. They also have a non-compliant ventilation/exhaust system in bays which can effect the health of firefighters, especially because there is also a lack of proper cleaning and decontamination areas for equipment.

"The direct link between diesel exhaust and cancer," said Chief Baird, "All of our guys' bunker equipment is stored in here. Everything is stored in here."

There's cracks in an outer wall because of an earthquake, and the station doesn't have adequate storage room.

"We have a lot of stuff that we're trying to cram in what available space we have."

The YCFD 3 Board of Fire Commissioners want a $1.85 million bond on February 13th's special election ballot to change that. If the bond is approved by voters, the money would go towards building a new fire station on the site of the current facility. The district is also contributing $700,000 towards the project budget that totals $2.5 million.

Chief Baird says the bond would not only address firefighter and community safety issues, but make the station efficient, functional and sustainable for years to come.

"Long range it's going to provide a facility for the district and everybody else. But there isn't anybody, resident or non-resident, that can not benefit from our fire services."

If the maximum bond is approved, the estimated cost to fire district property owners would be $0.70 per $1,000 assessed property value and would have a 20-year payoff.

The district says project cost and plans are presently being worked on to bring it within budget.