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Fire district plans to ask for levy

Money would fund a new station

— Citing safety concerns for its firefighters, Okanogan County Fire District No. 6 plans to ask voters next year for a levy lid lift to build a new station in town.

Chief Don Waller said the district just hired an architect last month, so design work hasn’t begun yet. A lid lift amount is still to be determined, as well.

The district has found a piece of property to house the new station, 31 Horizon Flats Road, he said.

The need for a new station was highlighted by three safety violations found at the current station, 223 Englar St., by the state Department of Labor and Industries.

The fire district invited the agency to inspect the station this summer when volunteer firefighters expressed concern about worker safety.

“The district has a legal and moral obligation to provide safe working conditions,” Waller said. “It’s not right for us to ask our volunteers to put their lives on the line to save others when they could be at risk just showing up to respond from the station.”

Of the three violations found, two have been fixed. The third problem, a lack of adequate clearance for fire apparatus, can’t be fixed with the current station’s size limitations.

“Inadequate clearance is defined as areas with less than 36 inches around the apparatus,” according to the district. “These areas include the entry to the station from the workshop, in between fire engines, and from the outside walls and doors to the engines.”

Because the station can’t be expanded, and the fire district is looking at a $1,950 daily fine if an accident were to happen, officials considered constructing a new building.

“This is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night,” Waller said.

“We need a new fire station to provide safe working conditions for our volunteers and better serve our community.”

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