New Fire Station

FHNA is participating in the City of Kirkland’s process to identify a site for a new fire station on Finn Hill. Our goals are to ensure that the site does not compromise environmentally sensitive areas (such as Big Finn Hill Park or adjacent wetlands) and is located properly to serve the community. FHNA also intends to provide comment to the City on the future use of Finn Hill’s existing fire stations on Juanita Drive at Holmes Point Drive (Station 25) and 84thAvenue at 141st Street (Station 24).

The City has started a needs assessment for the Finn Hill area and hired a consultant to assist it in acquiring a site that will allow fire and medical equipment to respond to emergencies throughout Finn Hill efficiently. More information is available on the City’s website .
Updates about the process will appear on the FHNA website. We’ll post them as developments occur on the home page, and you’ll also be able to review them in chronological order below this introductory section.

Background:
Prior to annexation, fire and emergency medical services (EMS) were provided to Finn Hill by Fire District 41, a local public agency with commissioners elected by, and funded with a special levy on, Finn Hill residents. The City of Kirkland provided fire fighters and managed fire fighting equipment under contract with the District.

Fire District 41 concluded several years ago that Finn Hill needs a new station to compensate for service shortcomings that currently exist. Today, certain areas of Finn Hill are not located within the recommended 5 ½  minute response time for fire service.  (See Kirkland Fire Chief Kevin Halder’s March 2011 presentation.)Station 25, at Juanita Drive and the lower end of Holmes Point Drive, is not well-located to reach addresses in north Finn Hill promptly, and Fire Station 24,on 84th and 141st , is too small to house fire fighting equipment; it is currently staffed part-time by volunteers who provide EMS but cannot respond to fires. The District determined that it would be most cost-effective to build a new, more centrally located station, and to sell Stations 24 and 25.

After concluding that a site between the Mormon Temple and Finn Hill Jr High School on 132nd Street would be too expensive to develop, the Fire District focused on siting the proposed station at the corner of Juanita Drive and 138th Place, using a portion of Big Finn Hill Park that the County was willing to donate in exchange for the city’s constructing a parking lot for Big Finn Hill Park users. However, the selection attracted vigorous neighborhood opposition, on grounds that parkland should not be sacrificed and that the location, next to an S-curve on busy Juanita Drive, was potentially dangerous. (See testimony of Denny Creek Neighborhood Alliance, the predecessor of FHNA, at a Fire District 41 community meeting on March 8, 2011.)

The Fire District accordingly postponed its development plans. When Finn Hill was annexed by the City in June, the commission was dissolved and responsibility for fire service was turned over to the City. However, the Fire District’s reserve fund for new station construction and its levy on Finn Hill homeowners (14¢ per $1000 of assessed real property value) were retained; these will be dedicated to funding fire and EMS operations on Finn Hill and for the development of a new station.

At the end of 2011, the City proposed to close Station 24 in order to save costs of maintaining the facility and paying a stipend to EMS volunteers who staffed it in the evenings. However, the City reinstated volunteer service in early 2012, in response to neighbors’ and FHNA’s requests and to the gracious offer of the volunteers to forego their stipend. Volunteers in Station 24 are available to respond to medical emergenci es between 7:30pm and 5:00am.  Station 25 and Station 27 on 132nd near Totem Lake will provide primary response for Finn Hill medical emergencies at other times.

In late 2011, the City restarted the process of evaluating Finn Hill’s fire service needs and assessing potential sites for a new station. It is also speaking with the City of Kenmore to explore the possibility of locating a new station on the northern side of Finn Hill, where it would serve both Kirkland and Kenmore residents, and Station 25 might be retained to serve the southern portion of Finn Hill. The City has not specified a deadline for reaching a decision on where to place the new station.
FHNA is monitoring developments. FHNA board members Ted Marx and Jon Pascal attended the City’s assessment meetings in the spring of 2012.

Comments or questions? We are eager to answer your questions and to hear what you have to say.  Write me, Scott Morris,  at scott@finnhillalliance.org

Other References:

FHNA Letter regarding Fire Station 24 Closure

Chief Kevin Nader responses to Questions on Proposed Finn Hill Fire Station

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