Ed Hartin, fire chief with Central Whidbey Fire & Rescue, will be hosting a tour of Station 53 on Race Road on three different dates this month. He wants to give Central Whidbey residents a visual of what proposed station renovations would look like. Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Fire station tours to give public a glimpse of proposed renovation

Ed Hartin can talk for hours about the improvements that Central Whidbey Fire &Rescue is hoping voters will approve at Station 53 on Race Road.

But he’d rather show them.

Hartin, the district’s fire chief, will be hosting three station tours later this month to give Central Whidbey residents a visual of what proposed station renovations would look like.

The fire district is considering asking voters to approve a bond on the November General Election ballot to fund station renovations and replace three aging fire engines.

The tours will be held from 6-9 p.m. June 21, 6-9 p.m. June 22, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 24.

Hartin said he’s working on signs and also plans to put out cones to indicate the boundaries of a proposed renovated building.

“This is a great opportunity for the public to learn about the bond proposal and how it will support emergency services for our community,” Hartin said.

The proposed bond would amount to nearly $7.38 million. Of that, $5,417,000 would go toward expanding and upgrading district headquarters on Race Road.

At current market rates, the bond would cost about $66 per year for the owner of a $300,000 home.

Central Whidbey Fire &Rescue wants to renovate the station to improve emergency response times, provide a safer environment for firefighters and offer more space for emergency apparatus.

Renovating the 25-year-old facility also is about $1 million cheaper than building a new one, Hartin said.

Under the plan, the station would move sleeping quarters into the main building to help firefighters respond to calls faster. Presently, firefighters stay in a trailer in the back then access the main building by entering a code into a key pad.

The renovation also calls for an upgraded mechanical system that will move potentially harmful diesel exhaust fumes away from emergency personnel and community members who use the facility for meetings.

“Emergency call volumes have increased 30.68 percent in the past seven years alone,” Hartin said. “It’s important that we have adequate facilities for both the community and firefighters from which to respond.”

Fire commissioners will meet in July to vote on a resolution that would place the bond measure on the Nov. 7 ballot.

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