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Firefighters plan to be in new digs by end of January

Access to the Sunnyside Fire Station is currently on South Eighth Street. The left side of the new addition to the building is currently enclosed as construction crews complete exterior work in a controlled environment.

Access to the Sunnyside Fire Station is currently on South Eighth Street. The left side of the new addition to the building is currently enclosed as construction crews complete exterior work in a controlled environment. Photo by Jennie McGhan.

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The new Sunnyside Fire Station will be accessed by the public from Franklin Avenue once construction is complete. Firefighters plan to use the new facility beginning next month.

The $4.5 million Sunnyside Fire Station renovation is just a month behind schedule due to unforeseen issues like the needed removal of footings that once were the foundation for a church. The construction project was hampered a bit, too, because relocating natural gas lines occurred during the busiest time of the year for Cascade Natural Gas crews.

However, Fire Chief Aaron Markham is pleased with progress being made with the construction.

He said firefighters plan to move into the new section of the fire station by the end of January.

“The project is being completed in stages,” said Markham, stating the new construction is the first stage of the project.

He said sheet rock inside the new fire house is going up this week. The installation of new cabinetry, work on the showers and floor coverings will commence soon after.

“There is exterior work being completed, too,” said Markham. He said Blew’s Construction was considering completing the exterior work next spring, but has been able to create a controlled environment for the installation of Styrofoam insulation, mortar and a textured exterior wall called EIFS (exterior insulated finishing system) that looks like stucco.

The second phase of the project, said Markham, will begin when the firefighters are moved out of the old station. That’s because the old station will be modernized and connected to the new addition.

A new sprinkler system will be expanded into the older station, the electrical system will be updated, the heating and air conditioning system will be converted from its current boiler system, windows will be replaced and plumbing in the older building will be upgraded.

“The second phase is due to be completed by June (2014),” said Markham.

Also included in the voter-approved bond for the fire station upgrade was the purchase of a ladder truck.

Markham said Battalion Chief Bill Harris and other members of a committee have been weighing the Sunnyside Fire Department’s options.

Harris recently traveled to Ohio to see how the trucks are built. Markham said a few vendors suggested the idea, telling committee members the on-site visits would provide them an idea of how to decide what the department wants.

“The truck committee is weighing our options,” said Markham.

He said the plan is to decide specifications and “…see if we can afford an aerial platform instead of a stick ladder.”

The difference, said Markham, is that an aerial platform has a bucket that makes it safer for firefighters. He said it will be easier to operate and provide a better sense of security for the firefighters, as well as anyone who may need to be rescued via ladder.

Markham said he also spoke with Grandview Fire Chief Pat Mason about the Grandview Fire Department’s ladder truck. He said Mason indicated a preference for an aerial platform over the ladder.

There is a drawback to aerial platforms, though. Markham said the less expensive trucks have a platform that hangs over the cab, which can make driving the truck more difficult.

The benefits, he believes, outweigh the drawbacks, though.

“The department isn’t sure if it (an aerial platform) will be within the budget, but it’s being kept as a consideration,” said Markham.

Whatever the decision, he is pleased the Sunnyside Fire Department has the support of the community and will soon be using the new station.

‑ Jennie McGhan can be contacted at 509-837-4500, or email JMcGhan@DailySunNews.com

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