By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published January 4, 2023
Snohomish will still have two
fire stations if
FD4-city campus concept advances
The locations of the fire stations inside city limits in context to population density according to a consultant’s general report. Deeper red means more density. (Graphic from Fire District 4’s Standard of Cover report)
SNOHOMISH — Snohomish will still have two fire stations in town if a concept to build a combined City Hall-police station-fire station complex comes to fruition.
Fire Chief Don Waller said there needs to be two stations within the city to maintain emergency service coverage.
However, where they are located may change.
Both the fire stations on Maple Avenue and on Avenue D are inadequate for today's needs. The Maple Avenue station, in particular, is too small a footprint for an operational station, Waller said. The Avenue D station is also too small, but is on a 1.6-acre lot that could be viable, the chief said.
The Maple Avenue station is in the densest and busiest area of Snohomish. It was built in 1995 as one part of a bond package. The city shared the costs to build the Maple Avenue station.
The Avenue D headquarters opened in 1984.
The city and Fire District 4 still have joint ownership of both fire station properties under a 2004 agreement. Both entities said they are still looking to resolve the co-ownership matter, and this issue is now part of the public safety campus discussions.
In mid-December, the city announced it has been working jointly with Fire District 4 to pursue creating a public safety campus. The effort is still researching properties at this stage.
If a station relocates, the fire district would keep its buildings. “The District plans to use any square footage possible for non-operation functions, allowing the District to reduce overall costs by not building new square footage for our support functions when possible,” Waller said by email.
A financial package to design and build the public safety campus concept is still being brainstormed.
Waller said on its end, Fire District 4 would use its normal levy dollars for a capital expenditure like this. “The District does not have any plans to ask the voters to approve additional excess levies or general obligations bonds for any of the District’s capital plans.”
The district has four fire stations overall. One at Fobes Hill on Foster Slough Road is not in active service. In addition to the two stations in the city, the third station is east of town at Three Lakes Road and 171st Avenue SE. Both the Three Lakes and Fobes Hill stations were built in 1990.
Prior to moving the HQ in 1984, the fire station headquarters were downtown at Second Street and Avenue A in the Firehouse Center. A fire engine stayed there to be available for a few years until the point when the Maple Avenue station opened.
Fire District 4, which was initially established outside city limits, took over the Snohomish City Fire Department in the 1990s when there was a citywide vote to hand over fire department operations. The chief at the time was Bob Merritt. By that time, while being separate, the fire district and city fire department already had been working closely in tandem for decades.
Merger with Everett still possible
Separately, discussions on merging Fire District 4 with Everett Fire are dormant, but not dead. The idea creates an independent regional fire district. It was last explored during 2020 and 2021.
Those discussions are tabled but could be revisited in the future, an Everett city spokeswoman said.
Fire District 4’s board determined previously it would wait for Everett Fire to re-approach on the conversation.
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