Connell prison expansion funds fire truck, remodel

By Kristi Pihl, Herald staff writerNovember 23, 2009 

CONNELL -- Connell firefighters are getting a remodeled fire hall and a new ladder truck thanks to expansion of the Coyote Ridge Corrections Center.

The state so far has paid the city $11.1 million in impact fees because of the recently completed prison expansion, which added a 2,048-bed medium security section to an existing 600 minimum security beds.

Impact money is intended to offset the effects on the city from the additional prison staff and inmate families, said Steve Taylor, Connell city administrator.

Of that $11.1 million, $1.1 million will pay for the fire hall remodel and the new fire engine, as well as a new ambulance. The city is using the other $10 million for water and sewer system projects.

Connell Fire Chief Jason Broberg said in addition to the new fire engine and ambulance, the Connell Fire Hall is being remodeled to provide more space and updated features for the all-volunteer, 22-member department.

The city council has chosen a design by Meier Architecture of Kennewick. The remodel will add two truck bays and a small office and convert part of the current hall into a training room, Taylor said.

The building will have five bays once the remodel is finished, Taylor said. One will house the new engine, which is to arrive next month.

Broberg said the two engines the department currently has are older, and the oldest will be sold. That will leave two fire trucks to serve the 3,260 city residents.

The new engine, which will have a 68-foot ladder that can be used for rescues, will become the primary vehicle for incident response, Broberg said. The department previously hasn't had a ladder truck.

Broberg said the department now responds to 20 to 25 incidents a year.

Connell receives emergency medical services from Franklin County Public Hospital District 1, which serves north Franklin County. The district now has two ambulances in Connell to serve the city and surrounding area, and with the new ambulance the district will have three stationed in Connell, Taylor said.

Because the impact fees were approved the day before the Legislature passed the budget last session, all $1.1 million was paid to Connell.

Technically, money for the ambulance should have gone directly to the hospital district, Taylor said, but since it didn't the city is buying the ambulance and will work out an agreement with the district so the ambulance can be used to serve Connell.

Now that the basic fire hall design is chosen, Meier Architecture will finish design work for the expansion.

The project should be ready to go out to bid in late winter, with construction starting in March and finishing about September.

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