Construction officially began this week on a new administration building for the Spokane Valley Fire Department.
The building, which is expected to cost $3.4 million, will be built directly adjacent to Station 8 at 2120 N. Wilbur Road. Meridian Construction of Spokane Valley is doing the work, and Arizona-based Lindquist Architects designed the two-story structure, which is expected to be completed next fall.
While the fire commissioners joked and posed with golden shovels during a damp Monday afternoon, the board turned serious during their regular meeting after the ceremony was over. The commissioners voted unanimously to name the conference room in the new building after Chief Mike Thompson. A plaque will be affixed outside the 1,100-square-foot room – which will house about 150 people at a time -- and a second one will be given to the chief to keep.
“I’m touched and honored,” Thompson told the board.
Thompson took over for Mark Grover in February 2005 as chief of the Spokane Valley Fire Department. A former Marine and Vietnam veteran, Thompson has been a firefighter since 1971, mainly serving in California. A former chief in Colorado, Thompson had retired and moved to the Spokane area to be closer to family when the Valley job became open.
On Monday, the fire commissioners lauded Grover in particular for his work in orchestrating a region-wide ambulance service contract, which – after several years of effort – was finally inked last year. The agreement with American Medical Response has meant for faster responsive times and an improved level of service for Spokane Valley, the commissioners said.
“It was all the chief,” said board Chairman Monte Nesbitt.
The chief was also at the helm of the department when a levy lid lift was passed by voters that allowed for new fire station construction, which will include the new administration building.
Also at the meeting, it was reported by Deputy Chief Larry Rider that a piece of steel from the internal structure of the World Trade Center in New York City will soon be on its way to the fire department for display in the new administration building. Approval from port authority officials in New Jersey have held up the shipment, he said.
“It’s taken a long time,” Rider said, adding that the piece – found in the wreckage after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – weights about 150 pounds.
“Now we just have to figure out a way to display it in the foyer,” Rider said.
In other news, more than 200 employees of the department have established a scholarship fund through the Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation. Staff can make donations through payroll deductions.
The annual scholarship provides for tuition and other education-related expenses for full-time nontraditional students enrolled in a career-technical degree or certificate program. Applicants must display financial need and live within the fire district service area.
For more information, call 434-5123.