Franklin Fire District 3 is expanding its fire station on Road 36 and Clark Road so the station can become the district's main base.
District 3 Commissioner Tom Hughes said the $807,000 project is a necessary part of preparing for the city of Pasco's future annexations of county land surrounded by city boundaries, commonly called the doughnut hole area.
"We've been planning this and had this in the works probably two to three years before we knew Pasco was going to raise the EMS issue," he said.
The remodel at 7809 N. Road 36 is being paid for using the district's current fire levy, he said. That's separate from EMS funding, which the district lacks after an EMS levy failed in November.
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The remodel involves adding offices, a classroom, a weight room and living quarters for a resident program the district plans to start soon, Hughes said.
The station, which is used by volunteers, will be operational during construction, he said.
The expansion should be complete in July, and he said they hope to start the resident program soon after.
The program will be modeled after the ones other agencies in the area have, where students receive some compensation such as room, board and tuition, for working shifts.
Banlin Construction of Kennewick was hired for the remodel. The company's bid was lower than the architect's estimate, Hughes said.
The remodel is being paid for using bonds, Hughes said. The borrowed money will be repaid using property tax revenue from the district's fire levy.
The Road 36 station is one of five the district has, as well as a barn that is used to for storage, Hughes said.
Even if all of the doughnut hole, or Riverview area, is annexed, Hughes said they will need to maintain at least one fire station there because that is where many of their volunteer firefighters live. Volunteers do not have to be part of the fire district.
Remodeling the station is a one-time expense, unlike providing EMS services, Hughes said.
After the district's contract with Pasco expired Jan. 31, the district decided to provide its own ambulance service instead of signing a new contract. District officials said they couldn't afford a new contract after the EMS levy failed.
Hughes said the district is scrambling to provide EMS services to its residents.
"Our volunteers have stepped up and they are doing a wonderful job," he said. "I'm proud of them."
The fire district serves the doughnut hole and Franklin County north of Pasco city limits until about Sagemoor Road.