The Kennydale fire station is on schedule, but off budget.
Fire Station 15 is projected to open on time, however will cost an extra $800,000 than what Renton Regional Fire Authority initially estimated, according to Fire Chief Rick Marshall.
The capital budget for the 7,500 square-foot fire station was estimated at $5.5 million, with an anticipated annual operations and maintenance cost of approximately $32,000.
Marshall attributed the increase in construction cost to the recent boom in the economy.
“That’s the challenge of the strong economy,” he said. “It does have an impact in our ability to find contractors to build and so it tends to increase the costs.”
The trend is regional, he said, and other fire departments in process of building fire stations are also facing similar challenges.
Marshall said they have found a way to find the extra $800,000 within RRFA’s existing budget, rather than relying on increasing the fire benefit charge next year.
“(The fire benefit charge) is a complicated formula. People might see a slight change, but our goal is to set it so our community does not have to pay more in benefit charges in 2018 than they did in 2017,” Marshall said.
To cut costs and stay within the budget, RRFA considered reducing size and capabilities for fire station 15. Marshall said they instead opted to stick to the original plan and create a fire station that would meet not only the immediate needs of the community, but also the long-term needs.
He also said it was important to find the additional $800,000 within the existing RRFA budget and not impose addition costs to the community.
“Any time we’re looking at expenses, it comes at an expense at our citizens. We’re trying to be strategic in what we’re going to do. So we decided to stick with the original plan — 7500 square foot, two-bay — and come up with the money someplace else.”
While various cuts were made throughout RRFA’s operation budget, the largest cut was made in the capital reserve for the fleets. The budget set aside to purchase and equip a new fire engine is now being rerouted to construction costs. Marshall said RRFA is currently looking into their fleet schedule to make sure the Fire Station 15 will have a fire engine.
“One of the things I am really proud of is the fact that every member of the RRFA understands that we work for the citizens. Not only is it important we deliver great customer service to them, but we also we’re very respectful of the fact that we’re funded by the community. It was very important for me to say if we’re going to build a fire station the way it needs to be built, that we take every step possible to not pass on that cost to our community.”
Fire station 15 was part of the Proposition No. 1 package that was approved by Renton and Fire District No. 25 voters in April 2016.
The station is designed to help share the load with fire stations 11, 12 and 16. Marshall said the average response times in the North Renton and the Kennydale areas have averaged around 8 to 9 minutes, compared to the targeted 7.5 minutes.
“Adding one unit is going to effect our ability to respond to the entire city more appropriately,” Marshall said.
RRFA is currently in the process of hiring more personnel for the new station. Marshall said fire station 15 will need 14 firefighters.
For more information about the station, visit rentonwa.gov/kennydaleproject/.