Washougal kickstarts plans to construct new fire station

City says current facility needs ‘immediate, total replacement’

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A fire engine sits in front of the Camas-Washougal Fire Department's Station 43 in Washougal, April 30, 2022. (Kelly Moyer/Post-Record files)

The city of Washougal is moving forward with its plans to construct a new fire station facility.

The City issued a request-for-pricing (RFP) proposal Dec. 8, to solicit interest from consulting firms with expertise in public facility design, construction and community outreach. Washougal’s current fire station, located at 1400 “A” St., needs “immediate and total replacement,” according to the City. 

“It really just needs to be demolished and replaced,” Washougal City Manager David Scott said during a Washougal City Council workshop held Dec. 4. “That building, (which is) 50-plus years old, has significant issues. It was never really designed for what it’s doing.”

In addition to housing all fire department emergency response personnel, administrative staff, and response apparatuses, the new facility will provide “co-location” opportunities for the City’s police department, which has “outgrown” its current facility, according to the RFP.  

“In general, the police station lacks adequate space for patrol officer workstations, detective offices, animal control and bodycam offices, classroom training, fitness training, showers, nursing mothers/staff, processing and holding, public waiting, small conference areas, network servers, evidence testing, armory equipment, and general storage,” the RFP states.

“The existing training room is inadequate to accommodate classroom training needed to maintain accreditation, as well as lacking adequate data ports and general storage. A dedicated office and storage for animal control is currently missing — a small technician’s workstation has been allocated. The Washougal Police Department plans to repurpose an existing interview room into a dedicated workspace for (its) new body cam staff position. This room lacks natural lighting, dedicated storage and data capacity. Multiple Conex boxes are located in the back parking lot to provide needed storage. The west parking lot lacks sufficient parking stalls to accommodate current and future officers and staff.”

Scott said that the project will be divided into three phases — conceptual design, construction documents and permitting, and construction.

The City will use fire impact fees to pay for the first phase, but would have to pass a bond in order to generate the revenues required to pay for the second and third phases, according to Scott.

“We need to put together a lot of great information so that we can share it with our neighbors and have a great conversation about the needs for public safety,” Scott said. “This community supported the police department 20 years ago when we needed a new police station, and there was a voted bond that was retired last year, which is great news. When we’re communicating with the community, we’ll talk about how the bond would really be more a public safety complex bond — not two new stations, but a new fire station with some co-location for police with some repurposing (in the current police station).” 

Scott said that the bond, which would also include a replacement fire engine, “is separate” from a possible future regional fire authority (RFA), which would create a new taxing district and would have to be approved by voters.

“The bond and necessary excess levy to pay the debt service would be the combined question on the ballot,” he told The Post-Record. “If approved by voters, the excess levy is used to pay the debt service on the capital bond. The potential timing of the capital bond is prior to a potential RFA vote. If a RFA is formed after the bond is in place, Washougal property taxpayers would continue to pay the excess levy for the duration of the bond, and the City would continue to pay the debt service. The debt is not transferred to the RFA.”

Scott added that, in Washougal, the voters deciding the fire station bond and the RFA would be “one in the same.”

“We would need to establish an interlocal agreement between the City and the RFA regarding the ownership, maintenance and operations of the new station,” Scott said. “Any proportionate costs of ongoing operations and maintenance for police use of the shared spaces would be paid by the City, not the RFA. In any event, these capital facilities needs exist notwithstanding whether a possible future operational and governance model is adopted or not.”