NASELLE — Built almost 70 years ago, the 40 feet by 70 feet wood EMS Fire Hall building belonging to Pacific County Fire Protection District No. 4 is now on the verge of being replaced. The facility near the intersection of State Routes 4 and 401 has been used to house two ambulances and a rescue vehicle. It has also served as a meeting room for the volunteer firefighters and volunteer members of the emergency medical service.
“The building has served the department well over the decades but can no longer fulfill our needs,” said district secretary Carol Haven. “It has become increasingly expensive to heat, maintain and no longer meets our needs for storage, office space and shelter for our ambulances and rescue vehicles.”
The structure was built with volunteer labor. Since then, laws pertaining to fire districts prohibit volunteer construction. New construction must be based upon competitive bidding and requires workers to be paid prevailing wage. While there are positives to these requirements, they do raise construction costs.
Fire commissioners Cliff Kilponen, Bud Strange and Bryan Penttila said their goal is to replace the building without tax dollars or a bond.
“This will be a very basic building,” said the commissioners. “We’re not trying to build a Taj Mahal. These people volunteer considerable time and energy to train and provide emergency fire and medical assistance to local residents. They deserve to have a building that can be adequately heated where they can meet, train and house their needed equipment in an organized manner.”
“We have been very prudent with our funds,” said both Haven and EMS director Will Green. “We rarely spend more than a third of our annual budget on our operations. Most of our fire equipment has been [acquired] through grants, which has allowed us to build our general fund to nearly $290,000. For this project, we have sent out grant requests to several foundations. The Templin Foundation has graciously provided us with a grant for $20,000 and we are awaiting responses from the others. Wahkiakum West Telephone has also donated $10,000 for an updated media center to be used for training.”
The new EMS Fire Hall will be a clear span steel building with a footprint of 50 feet by 100 feet. It will have four stalls large enough to house the EMS vehicles. There will be three office spaces. One space has been offered to the Pacific County Sheriff’s Department to use when its officers are working in the Naselle area. The other two offices will be for EMS and the fire chief. It will also include a larger room for meetings and training, including a kitchen, two restrooms and an EMS sanitation station.
Planning for this project has taken several months. After receiving bids from several vendors, the commissioners placed an order for the building materials with Steelsmith, Inc. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Building materials cost $88,981. DPR Builders of Ocean Park has been contracted to perform site preparation and erection of the building’s shell at a cost of $162,224.
“We are currently looking at contractors to complete the plumbing and electrical wiring, which will be cost of materials and prevailing wages,” Haven said. “We believe our current funds will cover those activities. As we can afford it, we will have interior walls constructed and final finishes on the interior.”
The new building will be constructed on the site of the existing one. Contents are being relocated and equipment is being strategically placed at locations within the district so volunteers can continue to provide rapid response to emergency needs.
“The existing wood structure will be removed by controlled burning,” said Fire Chief Doug Sandell. “Our current schedule, weather providing, is to burn the building on Saturday, Dec. 2. While the goal is to remove the existing building, we will also be using this burn as a training exercise for our firefighters.”
Donations by the public to support this project can be directed to Pacific County Fire Protection District 4 in care of Carol Haven PCFPD#4, P.O. Box 54, Naselle, WA 98638.