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Newest Mountain View Fire & Rescue Station Up and Running

King County Fire District No. 44's Station 96, previously located on S.E. 384th Street, has moved to a brand new building station on S.E. 400th Street at 180th with voters' and the Muckleshoot Tribe's blessing - literally.

You wouldn't know it by looking at it, but the grass that's been planted on the new helicopter launch area adjacent to King County Fire District No. 44's new station 96 on S.E. 400th Street is special. 

"It's kinda nerdy," admits Tim Perciful, the district's public information officer as he explains that the grass will not grow more than a few inches so as not to hinder emergency crews and medics when transporting patients by helicopter.

That 'nerdy' attention to detail has ensured that the district's newest station is not only eye-catching in its exterior decor but has all the facilities and attractions that a modern fire station should have, according to Fire Chief Greg Smith.

There is a spacious communal area complete with comfy-looking couches and recliners, a flatscreen television and a state-of-the-art kitchen space. The television -- with cable -- was a conscious decision, said Smith, as it is meant to encourage the district's roughly 125 volunteer firefighters to hang out there on their free time but potentially be available for calls when necessary.

The station is constantly staffed with a minimum of two firefighters -- career and volunteer -- but there are occasions where there are larger groups there because it's a social area to congregate as well, he said.

The building provides plentiful office and sleeping space and its engine and truck bay are designed with top-level auto-controlled windows to help with ventilation when the vehicles are running. Rooms for storage of firefighting equipment and emergency medical equipment border the bay, as does a decontamination area that includes a washer to clean gear and clothing that's been contaminated with biohazardous material. And there's a second-story mezzanine area dedicated for storage.

It even features a public use room that can be separately locked so as not to affect the station's daily operations when a group is using the 177-maximum capacity space.

The building is elevated from flood concerns and sits on several feet of a special material to help it be more earthquake-proof, Smith said.

Respect for the Muckleshoot Tribe

On the outside the bright red and yellow with dark trim on the building's exterior was a conscious choice in deference to the Muckleshoot Tribe which benefits from the services provided by the district while providing the land that the new station sits on, said Smith.

In the planning stages for the building, he said, architects were encouraged to explore the Muckleshoot Reservation for inspiration on how the exterior should look. The Muckleshoot is currently leasing the land to the fire district for the next 60 years, Smith said.

The district has steadily built a very engaged and cooperative relationship with the Tribe, and it was a point of pride for Smith. District staff are very hospitable to traditions and beliefs held by the Muckleshoot Tribe when, for instance, it came to how to handle the deceased, he said.

And the Tribe has reciprocated the appreciation, conducting an official blessing ceremony for the station when it first went into operation in December of last year, Smith said.

Location Close for Enumclaw Plateau Residents

While covers the city of Enumclaw and immediately surrounding areas, there are residents in District No. 44 -- particularly just north of District No. 28's borders but south of S.E. Green Valley Road that identify themselves as Enumclaw, said Smith.

District No. 44 serves a 70-square mile section of unincorporated and southeast King County that includes part of the Enumclaw plateau and the city of Black Diamond.

Just last Saturday, an overnight fatal motor vehicle accident at the intersection of S.E. 400th Street at 212th Way S.E. was called in to Enumclaw, said Perciful, and District No. 44 crews provided mutual aid. 

Given the location of the accident, which was right on the border between the two districts, station 96 was just a few minutes away, Smith said. The two districts regularly work together for mutual aid calls, he said.

A 12-year Process

The new station replaces the old station 96 which was located on S.E. 384th Street and had at one point been a one-room school house in the 1960s that the Auburn School District sold to the fire district for $1, Smith said.

Not only was space and maintenance of the old building a problem, but at one point it was shut down for six months due to mold, he said. The need for a new building was identified in 2000.

In 2008, district voters passed a $7.5 million bond measure which would in part fund the construction of the new building. About $3 million went to the new station while the rest went to purchase an assortment of much-needed vehicles, equipment and gear, Smith said.

Before that, it had been 30 years since the district went to voters with a bond issue or a levy lid lift, he said.

Construction began in the summer of 2010 and an assortment of in-progress photos can be viewed at the district website.

"It's definitely the nicest station we've had," said Smith.

Chief Smith February 24, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Thanks for your visit April! In the interest of clarification, let me point out that the Bond issue was the first such measure in 30 years. During the past 20 years, the District has placed several measures before the citizens, including several mergers, lid lifts and increasing our Board of Commissioners from 3 to 5, all of these measures have been supported by the citizens of the District and passing by significant number of votes. Our citizens have been supportive of the District. During the past several years, although the District has seen an almost 45% reduction in property tax revenue, the District and the Board has not asked that the citizens increase their tax burden. In light of the economic realities, the District has taken steps to increase efficiencies and reduce our support staff by three positions. Our goal is to keep our level of service at the same level during this difficult financial time. Thanks again, and we thank our citizens and the Muckleshoot Tribe for their support.
April Chan February 25, 2012 at 05:53 AM
Thanks for the extra details, Chief. I appreciate your invitation as well as your participation here on Patch!
dexterjibs February 25, 2012 at 06:23 AM
Are all the fire commissioners paid, fulltime firefighters?
Chief Smith February 25, 2012 at 07:28 AM
No, Fire Districts are regulated by RCW, here is a link related to Fire Commissioners. The only requirement is to be a registered voter residing in the District. http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=52.14
dexterjibs February 26, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Chief Smith, thank you for your response. I guess i will give more clarification to y question. Are the fire commissioners paid, full time firefighers in another fire agency, or are they citizens that have unrelated professions? And, were they all backed by the local firefighting union when they ran for the position of fire commissioner?
Chief Smith February 27, 2012 at 11:47 PM
I think you are asking about Fire District 44, I thought your first question was related to Commissioners in general. The Board at Fire District 44 has Commissioners with various backgrounds and different professional experiences. Fire Commissioners with fire service backgrounds are not uncommon. A visit to this page at King County Elections would provide you with some information related to this. http://www.kingcounty.gov/elections/voting/pamphlets.aspx several years of voters’ pamphlets are available here. The King County Voters Pamphlet provides information on individuals running for Fire District Commissioners positions, usually to include profession. Fire Commissioners are elected officials, the voters decide whom they wish to support and elect to represent them. As the Fire Chief, I choose to remain “apolitical” and always encourage voters to be “educated” voters. I hope to utilize the Patch to impart information about our Fire District and/or issues that may be generic to the Fire Service in general.
Chief Smith March 02, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Fire District 44 is a “combination” Department, utilizing Career and Volunteer Firefighters. Volunteers are regulated by the Fair Labor Standard Act (FLSA). They cannot receive an hourly wage nor assigned or scheduled to be on duty, as would a “paid employee”. We attempt to maintain staffing at our stations as much as possible, using both career and volunteers. Station 96 is staffed from 630 A.M. to 6 P.M. with career firefighters seven days a week, volunteers staff the station in the evening, again FLSA rules apply volunteers, so there may be nights, or hours of the night when this Station does not have volunteers in the Station. We maintain a minimum of two career firefighters on duty 24 hours a day, and six career firefighters on duty from the hours of 6 AM until 6 PM, 365 days a year. A career Captain on duty 24 hours a day is responsible for all of the Districts resources. Chief Officers “on call” respond to significant emergency incidents. Mutual Aid with our neighboring departments adds to our available resources. Fire District 44 also provides mutual aid in reciprocation. Mutual Aid is utilized in all of King County, including all of the Cities, even Seattle. We discourage persons with an emergency to drive to fire stations. Always call 911. You may drive to a fire station near you, only to find that that station is out of service on another call. Our Dispatch system is computer aided, the nearest in service resource will be dispatched.
Chief Smith March 02, 2012 at 09:22 PM
The career staffing should read 6AM to 6PM not 6:30AM, My apologies
Bill Ritzdorf March 16, 2012 at 01:05 PM
Awesome to see our newest fire station operational. I live about 3 blocks from the new station. How were you able to get high speed Internet and cable? Com cast has refused to install cable to any residents in about a 2 mile radius around the new station.
Chief Smith March 16, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Bill We use a local company, http://www.skynetbb.com/ , SKYNET is owned and operated in Enumclaw. We also used this at the Stations old location. I use this service for my own home, have always found it to be a great service and never seems to be down. Great customer service. Have found the cost to be very reasonable also. They are located in the same building the Old Radio Shack in town was at I think. Would suggest you give them a call and see what they can do for you....360-802-6657
Valerie C. March 17, 2012 at 07:12 AM
You need a taller flag pole. Either that or smaller flags. The U.S. flag nearly touches the ground! For shame!!
Chief Smith March 18, 2012 at 02:27 AM
I read your post this morning and drove over to the station to check on the flag. The flag was flying full staff at the top of this 63 foot flag pole. We fly the US, State and MIA flags, in that order, top to bottom. The proper size flag is determined by the hight of the pole and its constuction. This pole could fly a 10x15 ft flag. We fly 8x12 due to our use of three flags. One of Fire District 44's General Orders covers the use and display of our flag, this order is in full compliance with United States Code Title 4 chapter 1 The Flag. When we fly the flag at half-staff, which unfotunatly has been far too often in the past few years, we remove the MIA flag. On this pole, at half-staff, the bottom of the US flag at rest is about 20 feet from the ground. We fly the flag at all eight of our stations with great pride and respect and in full accordane of the US flag code.

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