Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)
SUBJECT: Nickels says $200 M needed to improve fire facilities
4/22/2003 12:43:00 PM
Mayor Nickels Says $200 Million in Improvements
Needed for Fire Stations, Emergency Response Facilities
SEATTLE - Mayor Greg Nickels said today many of Seattle's fire stations and facilities are outdated and inadequate to meet today's emergency response needs.
"The last time a new fire station was built Gerald Ford was in the White House," Nickels said. "Upgrading our fire stations, training facilities and emergency operations center is long overdue."
During a tour of the Fire command headquarters this morning with Chief Garry Morris, Nickels highlighted weakened foundation areas and basement flooding as just a few of the problems with the 75-year-old building. The command center in Pioneer Square stands on a liquefaction zone and would likely suffer severe damage in a strong earthquake. In 2001, the Nisqually earthquake caused buildings around the command center to partially collapse and sidewalks to buckle.
"We can't afford to have our command center taken out by a quake just when we need it the most," said Morris.
A recent assessment of fire department and emergency response facilities shows the city needs to make about $200 million in improvements to buildings and equipment to meet the city's emergency response needs. Needed improvements include seismic upgrades, new service capacity, a Fire training center, new central command facility and emergency operations center and replacing and upgrading outdated fire boats.
Nickels said he will send legislation to the City Council asking voters to approve investments in facilities and equipment. Timing and details about the measure will be announced within the next several weeks.
"Our goal is to make Seattle the most prepared city in America," Nickels said. "We're working hard to accomplish this goal but we have to give our first responders the tools to get the job done. We know the public supports the life-saving work our firefighters do, and wants to ensure we can respond adequately to natural or man-made disasters," he said.
Nickels said Seattle continues to prepare for emergencies with a new Emergency Preparedness Bureau within the Seattle Police Department and a recent award of $11.2 million from the federal government for homeland security. Seattle will also participate in the nation's largest counter-terrorism exercise called TOPOFF 2, in May.
"We will continue to do everything we can with the resources we have, but we can only go so far with outdated systems and seismically-challenged facilities," he said. "We've got to bring our Fire Department into the 21st century."