SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department In Need of Adequate Station
By Mary Kauffman


January 17, 2007

Ketchikan, Alaska - The square foot challenged South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department has increased its membership over the years and additionally has seen an increase in the various firefighting equipment needed to serve the South Tongass community.

Since its formation in 1981, South Tongass Fire Chief Scott Davis said department members have increased 800%. Davis said, "When the South Tongass Volunteer Fire station was built in 1981 there was little or no consideration of building standards and codes, and no room for addition to new areas." He said, "With the numerous regulatory items and equipment required of a fire station today, the square footage to house this equipment does not exist in the current facility." Davis described the current station as "not a 'friendly' building to visitors, guests, or the public."

jpg South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department

South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department public meeting and training area.
Photo courtesy STVFD

"With all of the regulatory equipment such as a Bio Hazard area, the square footage does not exist in the station," said Chief Davis.

Davis said the current station lacks room in the meeting area for training the 40 members in the volunteer organization. Chief Davis said, "The 2006 International Fire Code indicates that 20 square feet per person is required for our classroom. Given the 600 square feet available, this is quite simply not enough room for our members!"

The South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department facility is located on a blind corner in the Mountain Point area south of Ketchikan, Alaska. Chief Davis said the station's location on a blind corner does not meet the Alaska Department of Transportation standards for safety visibility for on-coming traffic to the fire station entrance.

Other basic necessities such as bathroom facilities and kitchen facilities are lacking in many areas said Davis.

Chief Davis doesn't just point out the areas lacking in the older facility. He also described what a new fire station would require to meet the needs of the South Tongass community into the next 25 years. Among items described and needed in a new South Tongass Volunteer Fire Department station, Chief Davis listed:

  • A "Community Fire Station" that is friendly, warm and inviting.
  • A single floor public station design to comply with American Disabilities Act.
  • A second floor living and sleeping quarters to meet OSHA standards and exiting requirements for the in-house members manning the ambulance after hours.
  • Adequate apparatus bays to properly house the equipment.
  • The orientation of the fire station and apparatus bays to provide a "line of sight" approach to the highway that the station borders to meet Department of Transportation standards.
  • A classroom/training area to provide a positive learning environment to the 40 members of the department and to serve as a meeting area for the public.
  • Exercise facilities are needed to promote the existing wellness program necessary for the efficient utilization of departmental members in rigorous situations.
  • Additional bathrooms and showers are needed to meet members' needs.
  • Paving of the access and parking areas to prevent damage to vehicles.
  • Separate bio-hazard facilities (clean room) to include Fire Turnout Washer and Dryer to comply with OSHA and NFPA standards.
  • Diesel exhausts evacuation system, HVAC to meet current NFPA and Building Standards.

And what would be the cost of an adequate fire station? Chief Davis said, "The costs with this fire station are somewhat unique." He said, "Everything that we need to house will need to be in this building because we have just the one fire station. So essentially, all of the equipment, training facilities, regulatory equipment, apparatus, quarters, and maintenance equipment must fit into this single building."

Addressing the cost of an adequate fire station that would meet the needs of the South Tongass community for the next twenty-five years, Davis said, "We anticipate the cost of the property and building to be $2,150,000."



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