Orcas Island Fire and Rescue is pleased to report to our community that we have completed the construction of Deer Harbor Station 24.
We believe that the new station will improve our services in EMS, life safety, fire and rescue. OIFR is committed to maintaining strict fiscal responsibility and transparency in all our operations.
With this in mind, we issue the following report to the community regarding the construction of Station 24.
In 1999, voters approved a special levy to improve EMS, Fire, and Rescue services on Orcas Island. With your support and prudent financial planning, we have achieved the following objectives of the 1999 levy from which we are currently funded:
Construction of Headquarters Station 21 (2002)
Two Structural Fire Engines (2004)
Two Vacuum Tenders (Water Trucks, 2007)
Three WASP Engines (2009)
One Rescue Truck (2009)
Two Ambulances (2001 and 2009)
Improved Volunteer Benefits (For recruitment and retention)
A full time paramedic on duty at Station 21 twenty four hours a day
The purchase of Westsound Station 22 (2011)
The construction of Deer Harbor Station 24
Because of strong financial management practices, OIFR currently has no debt for any of our facilities or equipment.
Station 24 Development
Through strategic planning processes and addressing future growth in the community, the Board of Fire Commissioners authorized the construction of a new fire station in Deer Harbor to improve our response to EMS, fire, rescue, or any other incident.
Beginning in 2008, OIFR reached out to the community of Deer Harbor to seek citizen involvement in the process of planning and development. There was significant community representation in multiple public meetings and hearings.
The following are the objectives used to guide construction development:
Improved emergency response in Deer Harbor and Western Orcas Island
Ability to staff the station with personnel 24 hours per day
Facility use by the community
Construction addressing future growth in population (Phased)
OIFR realized that to build a facility that would provide effective emergency operations and function well into the future, an approach toward cost reduction would have to be initiated. To this end and throughout the construction process, OIFR proceeded with a “phase oriented” construction process with the goal of saving taxpayer dollars.
Phase One, Wellman and Zuck Construction
Through a competitive bid process, Wellman and Zuck Construction were hired to complete Phase One of the project, which resulted in the construction of an apparatus bay that was able to house four response vehicles and a “shell” of a building that would have the ability to be finished in the future. Ground was officially “broken” on June 30, 2010.
Through Phase One, OIFR recognized cost savings could be found for future improvements to Station 24 by hiring Wellman and Zuck to complete additional projects outside of the original bid including the following:
Fire sprinkler system
Insulation throughout building
Concrete slabs, aprons and driveways
Shed roofs over man doors
Commissioner Clyde Duke
Commissioner Duke provided the roofing labor at no charge to the district saving taxpayers dollars. Commissioner Duke also gave other significant volunteer hours throughout the building process.
Phase Two, Natural Home Builders
Recognizing the need to put Station 24 into full operational service, the Commissioners of OIFR approved Phase Two funding in October of 2012 by hiring Natural Home Builders to finish the main and second floors of Station 24.
Many OIFR members and community participants volunteered precious time in planning, consulting, meeting, and laboring for the Station 24 construction project.
Washington State Auditor
According to the Washington State Auditor, in the District’s pursuit to reduce costs, we have violated small works regulations. Results from the 2010-2011 regular scheduled audit performed by the Washington State Auditor will say that OIFR should not have accepted volunteer labor from Commissioner Duke. Additionally, the auditor will state that the District should have gone out to bid for the cost-saving opportunities provided by Wellman and Zuck found in Phase One.
Orcas Island Fire and Rescue accepts responsibility for the findings with the response that our actions were driven by the goal of saving taxpayer dollars while improving service to our community.
Building anything in the San Juan Islands is costly considering the expenses of transport and logistics. Public projects add factors not required in the private sector.
The following are some critical elements that affected the cost of construction:
Prevailing wage as determined by the State of Washington
Regulations and community mandates directing design, construction practices, and landscaping
Final Costs of Construction
The following is a cost breakdown for Construction of Station 24:
2008-2009: Design, Engineering, Permitting, Legal, Insurance
June 2010: Wellman and Zuck Begin Construction
Phase One Construction $634,356.66
October 2012 - March 2013: Phase Two, Natural Home Builders
Phase Two Construction $129,417.52
Total Cost of Construction: $1,030,128.44
Station 24 Moving Forward
The completion of Deer Harbor Station 24 will mark improved service to our citizens. With the addition of apparatus and equipment, OIFR will be able to better to respond to any incident.
Here is where we are and where we are going:
Today, the community of Deer Harbor has
A fully operational fire station housing four response vehicles. The facility is equipped with:
a meeting room
two large dorm rooms
a large training room
a communications office
Three apparatus: Wasp 24, Aid 24, Tender 24
Wasp 24 provides structural and wildland firefighting capabilities.
Aid 24 is one of three ambulances used for patient transport.
Tender 24 is a 1,000 gallon water truck
Resident Volunteer Program
By June of 2013, we plan to have volunteer residents living at Station 24 with the ability to respond to any incident. This will improve incident response times, provide better service, and offer an effective maintenance program for the facility.
Emergency Coordination and Shelter
In the event of a major emergency incident such as an earthquake or large wildland fire, Station 24 could be used as an emergency shelter and coordination center.
EMS Training Station
OIFR is planning to use Station 24 as an EMS training center where our personnel can experience hands-on training in a focused environment.
Visiting Instructor Accommodations
OIFR often hosts visiting instructors and presenters who provide training and education to our members. Station 24 can serve as accommodations for our visitors.
Public Meetings and Events
OIFR looks to work with the Deer Harbor community to open the current occupancy status of Station 24 to allow public meetings and events. We believe that since Deer Harbor Station 24 is owned by the public, it should be open to the public. It is the community’s fire station.
Through accountable management practices and fiscal responsibility, we aspire to maintain and equip Station 24 in a manner that provides the people of Deer Harbor with highly reliable and proficient EMS, life safety, fire, and rescue services. Additionally, we believe that Station 24 belongs to the people of Orcas Island and the Deer Harbor Community and look forward to providing the best service possible into the future.
- Orcas Island Fire Department Chief Kevin O'Brien