VANCOUVER, WASHINGTON, DECIDED SIX MONTHS AGO that the city’s fire department was overstaffed, so the city council voted to close one of their firehouses, and mothball one of their only two ladder trucks as well. It was Station 6, home to both an engine company and a truck that was deemed unnecessary and scheduled for a December 31 shutdown with the 30th being the last day of service.
Station 6 (photo unattributed)
On Thursday night a collection of citizens from Co. 6′s territory gathered on the front apron of the firehouse and held a candlelight vigil lamenting the loss of their fire protection. The Columbian reported:
“They’re part of our hearts and our community,” said Mary Elkin, an Image neighborhood resident who started Friends of Fire Station 6 to lobby the city council to keep its doors open. “The loss of this fire station will be felt by everyone. We will not give up. Our community needs this firehouse.”
She called on those in attendance, occasionally interrupted by honks from the busy nearby street, to keep fighting and petitioning the city council to find the money.
The Columbian / Steven Lane
The city shuttered its two remaining medical rescue units last year because of the budget. Overall, 18 uniformed firefighter positions were cut through retirement and attrition, along with numerous support jobs and sworn investigators in the fire marshal’s division. The area around Fire Station 6 now becomes a “doughnut hole” that will add at least two minutes to the department’s overall response time of 8.5 minutes.
Former Vancouver City Councilor Pat Jollota shielded a candle against the wind to commemorate the station, which opened in 1987. “This could have been avoided,” she said. “If the council had set it as a policy — fire stations will not be closed, public safety would not be compromised — staff would have had to find a way. We needed a couple more stations, not to be closing them down.”
The city is hoping that the rest of the country will bail them out by awarding them a SAFER grant that they applied for, but they won’t learn if they were successful in their bid until later this month.
As mentioned above, Truck 6 is being shut down also and it ran its last call late Thursday night shortly after midnight. The truck was dispatched to an auto accident on Interstate 205 and was parked in the right lane blocking the accident scene when an airport taxi slid on a patch of ice and crashed into the ladder truck. Truck 6 is out of service.
Vancouver FD photo by Capt. Moen
Hat tip: Firefighter Dave