New station gives firefighters ‘really cool place’

Fire Station 20 opened for a sneak preview to an audience of media members, officials and John Hay Elementary School fifth-graders on Wednesday, Dec. 17. 

The station (2816 15th Ave. W.) is not open yet, but it will be home to firefighters serving Queen Anne, Magnolia and Interbay in January. There will be a public open house on Jan. 31, according to the City of Seattle’s website. 

Mayor Ed Murray spoke at the open house, saying he was “proud to be mayor of a city that leads on environment.” The station is on its way to being a certified-LEED Platinum building and leads in the Pacific Northwest as an environmentally friendly fire station, he said. 

“Congrats on a really cool space,” Murray said. 

Seattle Fire Chief Gregory Dean, who will retire at the end of this year, said he was glad the voters made sure their neighborhood was safe. Dean said the firefighters would miss their old firehouse, but he invited the audience to continue to come back. 

“This is your neighborhood fire station,” he said. 

David Kunselman, program manager for the city’s Facilities and Services department, gave tours of the building. Outside, the building features a drive-through driveway, which allows the firefighters to enter and exit 15th Avenue West without stopping traffic. The hillside in the back of the building has bio-retention walls with planters, and one corner has a lowered area where the firefighters can plant a garden. Under the parking lot, there are geothermal wells, which are used to heat and cool the water in the station. 

On the side facing 15th Avenue West, there are signs for both pedestrians and drivers that share information about the building’s energy and water savings and fire-safety tips. 

Fire stations are more secure now than they used to be, Kunselman said, so when people visit, they can only enter the front office, but the office is open to the public 24 hours a day for people to do things like have their blood pressure checked. 

Inside, there are bedrooms, with storage cubbies for the firefighters on duty. The firefighters work 24-hour shifts, from 8 a.m. to 8 a.m., so they use the bedrooms to stay well rested, Kunselman said. 

The new station also features a large, modern kitchen, with group and individual storage lockers. The firefighters shop for groceries and cook together, in the space that they refer to as the “beanery.” 

The station also features a gym, where they can work on strength and drills. Next door, there’s a recreation room, where they can watch movies together or decompress after a stressful or emotional call, Kunselman said. 

During his speech, Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess congratulated the design for its ability for future expansion: The space currently holds one engine vehicle but has room for two. 

He noted that, in 2013, Fire Station 20 responded to 1,366 calls, a 9-percent increase over 2012; he thanked the firefighters for keeping the neighborhoods safe. 

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