The Art Inventory

Following Fire Station 9

by Kirby Lindsay, posted 3 December 2012


The construction site of the future, new-and-improved Fire Station 9, in Dec 2012. Photo by K. Lindsay

Right now it may appear to be a big hole in the ground, but construction of the new Fremont Fire Station 9 continues to be on-schedule (so far.)  When completed, the new structure will provide our firefighters, and our community, an updated facility about which we can all be proud.

“It will make such a difference in going about day-to-day,” acknowledged Seattle Fire Department Battalion Fire Chief Michael H. Walsh.  He has seen how a new fire station – a new civic structure – conveys a sense to those who work inside, and the community that sees it, that we care about them and our neighbors.

The Improved Station

Teresa Rodriguez, of the Seattle Department of Finance & Administrative Services, which oversees the building of structures like the new fire station, said that the contractor – Howard S. Wright – has the construction currently on-schedule (although the weather has not made it easy.)  She also reported that the contractor has a reputation for beating proposed schedules on its jobs, so the new building may be completed before the proposed August 2013 date.

An artist's rendering of the new Fire Station 9 building, with the art piece by Peter Reiquam

Even then, it will take a month to commission the electrical, off-gas the building materials and move the firefighters back in – and another month before we can all gather for a big, community-wide celebration of the new, improved and up-to-code Fire Station.

Chief Walsh, with 37-years in Seattle Fire including work as a firefighter, spoke with excitement about the structure, and how many of the crew will, for the first and only time, experience working in a brand-new facility.

The new station will contain modern equipment, such as a decontamination area for hazardous materials, and a bunking gear room for storing firefighting gear in a specially ventilated area.  “With a new station, we can accommodate new, safer methodology,” acknowledged Kyle Moore, Seattle Fire Department Public Information Officer.  The new station will also have to apparatus bays, to allow indoor parking (and servicing) of Engine 9 and Air 9 – the only compressed air truck available north of the Ship Canal.

A City of Seattle photo of the original Fire Station 9, built in 1901, at 3829 Linden Ave N

Chief Walsh also noted basic things the new building delivers, like a new, updated kitchen, new bathrooms, and “new outlets where they actually need them, and lights where they need light.”  The old station, now torn down, had been built in 1954, and served the firefighter’s needs well for many years, but in 50+ years, technology and crisis response methods have changed.  The new station allows the firefighters to utilize these improved methods.

Meanwhile, The Interim & The Art

For now, Fire Station 9 operates from an interim station – located in East Fremont on Interlake Ave N behind the new evo store.  “The folks at the station are happy,” Chief Walsh reported, “Their job assignment has not changed.”  They still cover the same response district, operate throughout the same inspection district and meet the same training requirements, the Fire Chief explained, “they just report to an interim facility.”

The Fire Department hasn’t heard much from neighbors of the interim site, and they are hopeful that means everyone is adapting to the temporary situation.  “I think we’re doing well,” Chief Walsh stated, cautiously.

A daylight photo of the neon art by Rodman Miller, created for Fire Station 9 Photo by K. Lindsay, Feb '12

A few Fremonsters have commented on the change in traffic patterns for Fire Engine 9.  Also, a few have asked about the demolition of the old structure – and the disposition of the original neon art work, installed during the 2001 celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Fire Station 9 site.  Rodriguez could assure everyone that the neon, of the Fire Station 9 ‘Ever Ready’ emblem, remains safely and securely stored – in her office.

Created by local artist Rodman Miller, the neon will be refurbished and reinstalled in the new building – inside the apparatus bay, although still visible, Rodriguez reported, through the windows.  Also, a new public art piece will be installed on the roof line of the new station house.  Created by Peter Reiquam, the art work is a box aluminum representation of the Ever Ready cat, with yellow, LED eyes, represented in mid-leap looking ready to join our firefighters.

Avoid Making A Call

“We are still responding,” to emergency calls, Moore assured.  Of course, there are several simple steps people can take this winter to cut down the chances of a fire breaking out – and requiring a response by Fire Station 9.

The Fire Station 9 building that no longer exists, in January 2010. Photo by K. Lindsay

Moore offered four areas to watch:

  • Heaters – keep everything a minimum of 3ft from heaters, particularly baseboard and plug in types, even when off.  Baseboard heaters can turn on automatically, if the room temperature dips low, and cause a fire if items are stored too close.  Also, never place wet items on a heater to dry, and never use extension cords to power a heater.
  • Christmas trees & lights – keep the tree 3ft from any heat source, keep it watered and turn off holiday lights when away from home.  Also, on holiday lights – do not use extension cords, and spend the money for new, recently inspected strands.  The few cents saved by using old, potentially damaged light strands aren’t worth the risk.
  • Kitchens – fires in kitchens increase in fall/winter months.  Be mindful when cooking (or heating up) anything.  Keep a proper fire extinguisher in the kitchen.  Have working smoke detectors (as Moore pointed out, “that little alarm can save your life!”)  And please, don’t leave the kitchen while cooking anything.
  • Candles – always use a proper holder, keep candles at least a foot from anything flammable, and never leave one unattended.

If you see a fire, or smell smoke, call 9-1-1.  And while Fire Station 9 is located at its interim facility, remember that don’t want to have to come to your home or place of business to respond to a call.  Be careful, and make sure they don’t have to.

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©2012 Kirby Lindsay.  This column is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws.  Reproduction, adaptation or distribution without permission is prohibited.


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