The South Thurston Fire and EMS Fire Protection District 12’s bond measure to replace its current headquarters tallied up 61.61% of voters in favor of the measure, or 1,056 votes, as tabulated in final 2021 election counts.
About 38% of voters, or 658 votes, were opposed to the bond, which will amount to 37 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $74 per year for a home assessed at $200,000.
The total bond is for $5.77 million over 20 years. During its first year, the tax rate is an estimated 34 cents of $1,000 of assessed property value.
In order to pass, the Washington State Constitution requires fire protection district bond measures to receive at least 60% voter approval and also meet voter turnout requirements of 40% of the voters who turned out in the last general election.
With 1,714 votes tabulated for the measure, the district has surpassed the 1,704 votes needed for the 40% validation, since last year’s voter turnout for the district amassed 4,259 votes.
“It’s exciting for our agency and our community,” said Fire Chief Andrew Schaffran of South Thurston Fire and EMS. “We’ve been a growing department. We’ve outgrown where we are. The building isn’t able to be remodeled itself, so it’ll be good to build new and keep our department growing to meet our community’s needs.”
In recent years, South Thurston Fire and EMS Fire Protection District 12 merged two departments and annexed the city of Tenino into its services. Prior to that, the city’s needs were covered through a contract.
“Our call volume is growing, the community is growing, and we need to keep up with that and get ahead of the curve, instead of playing catch-up,” Schaffran said.
The new fire station aims to meet not only today’s needs, but the needs of the future, he said.
“It’s going to be built to be added onto in the future,” Schaffran said. “We’re going to have a sprinkler system to cover (the building). If we have our own fire and there’s people living in there, you want to be able to protect them. We don’t have a sprinkler system now.”
The new station will be up to seismic code, which the current building does not meet, and will also be larger.
“We’re running out of space,” Schaffran said. “We don’t meet some of the current standards for spacing of our apparatus out in the bay.”
He said the new building will accommodate live-in firefighters, which isn’t something the current station can do. Currently, the district’s firefighters sleep in a house across the road, Schaffran said. When they receive a call after hours, they have to run across the road to get to the station. The new facility will house sleeping quarters within the station.
Schaffran said having the firefighters on site should reduce call-response times, among other benefits.
There will also be a larger community room.
“Right now, when community groups come in here, all of our offices and working areas are commingled in a sense, and with a larger room they won’t interfere with us and we won’t interfere with them when they are having their meetings,” he said.
The Tenino Farmers Market uses the station, as well as quilting groups and other community organizations.
Ultimately, he said the measure will have a positive impact on the community, as it looks to relocate within the Tenino city limits.
“The importance to the community is your fire department will (function better),” Schaffran said. “We want to thank them for supporting us. We can’t do this without them. We can’t grow without their support. By allowing us to build a new station, we’re going to be able to function at a greater level and continue to grow to meet the community’s needs as it grows, as it gets bigger.”