Gregory J. Nickels (former Mayor)
5/17/2008 11:00:00 AM
Mayor unveils new complex dedicated to public safety
SEATTLE- Mayor Greg Nickels today celebrated the grand opening of the city’s new Fire Station 10, Fire Alarm Center, and Emergency Operations Center-- all located in one complex at the southern edge of downtown.
The 60,333 square-foot complex is the largest project in the Fire Facilities and Emergency Response levy, passed by Seattle voters in 2003. The newly constructed Fire Station 10 is the first levy-funded station to open.
“Once again a cataclysmic act of nature in another part of the world drives home the urgent need for being prepared for the unthinkable here. While today we celebrate another step toward making Seattle better prepared, our hearts go out to the people of China as they deal with the destruction and tragic loss of life resulting from this week’s devastating earthquake,” said Mayor Nickels.
Seattle is making progress toward being the most prepared city in the nation for disasters.
Fire Station 10, the Fire Alarm Center (FAC), and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) have state-of-the-art technology and space to better allow the city to coordinate emergency response.
Fire Station 10, located at 400 S. Washington St., houses the hazardous materials response unit and crews who respond to fire and medic calls in southern downtown.
Built in 1928, the outdated Fire Station 10 was located in Pioneer Square in a liquefaction zone. As Seattle became denser and taller, the engines and trucks increased in size, and crews outgrew the old station. Firefighting has also become more complex. Older stations generally do not have the required space to clean clothing and equipment from biological and chemical contaminants.
The FAC houses the firefighters who answer 911 calls and dispatch the appropriate crews. The new FAC has enough room to guarantee a seat for every available dispatcher during a major incident. The new telephone system includes Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) capability, which directs calls to the responder who has been available the longest.
The new FAC also has a 911 telephone back-up system that enables firefighters to keep taking 911 calls in the event of a telephone failure. At the old facility, staff had to leave the building and go to a back-up facility.
“The new FAC has been a huge morale booster for the dispatchers and administrative staff who have never worked in a state-of-the-art communications center,” Nickels said.
The old FAC was cramped, awkward and outdated. The facility did not have a conference room, a training room or enough work stations for dispatchers during a large event.
The EOC is the heart of the city’s response to disasters and other major events. The new EOC allows the city to coordinate with regional, state, and national operations centers through a host of systems and back-up systems, including the Internet, video-teleconferencing, satellite phones, 800 MHz radio, short-wave/amateur radio, and local, state, and national warning/notification radios.
The old EOC, located in the basement of Belltown’s Fire Station 2, was cramped, awkward and outdated. Emergency responders were physically separated and located in three different rooms, making communication and coordination a challenge.
The new EOC can accommodate 150-plus emergency responders from city departments and key partners, such as hospitals, schools and universities, businesses, and nonprofit social service agencies. There is a room for 16 ham radio operators; nearly 100 of these volunteers support communications in neighborhoods and the EOC.
“We can’t stop the next earthquake or storm from striking Seattle, but we can be prepared to save lives, protect property and pull ourselves up after a disaster,” Nickels said. “This emergency command center allows us to send help where it is needed most when it is needed most.”
The new building also reflects the city’s commitment to green design practices. A 12,000 gallon cistern captures water from fire department drills and provides 100 percent of the water for truck washing and irrigation. Low flow fixtures, including toilets, faucets, and showers, will reduce water use by 40 percent. The 15,000 square-foot green roof reduces the heat island effect - and slows water before it enters the storm system.
As part of 1% for Art Funding, the artwork on site reflects the complex’s International District’s roots and the life-saving work of the emergency personnel housed there. Seattle artist Gloria Bornstein developed the art plan for the site, which includes her work, as well as that of artists Stuart Nakamura, Jacqueline Metz and Nancy Chew.
In 2003, Seattle voters approved the Fire Facilities and Emergency Response Levy, which was designed with lessons learned from the Nisqually earthquake, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and the 1995 Kobe earthquake, among others.
The $167 million levy is helping Seattle make tremendous progress on getting prepared, including:
- Rebuilding or upgrading 32 neighborhood fire stations to better withstand earthquakes and ensure that the city’s emergency responders are available to help when they are needed most.
- Adding two new fireboats, the flagship Leschi, delivered last year, and the smaller fire and rescue boat, Engine 1, that went into service in 2006.
- Creating a new Joint Training Facility for firefighters that opened last year.
- Providing an emergency water supply for fighting fires. Hardened hydrants at city reservoirs allow firefighters to draw water directly from reservoirs in an emergency.
- Placing emergency supply caches at four locations around the city of Seattle.
- Installing emergency generators at six community centers.
The $44.3 million Fire Station 10, the Fire Alarm Center, and the Emergency Operations Center complex was designed by local architects Weinstein A|U, with associated architects Ross Drulis Cusenbury of Sonoma, Calif., and built by Hoffman Construction and Co. Co-locating the three facilities made good economic sense as all are built to the essential facility standard, and the FAC and the EOC share much of the same complex technology.
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