Preliminary findings for a fire station location and Insurance Service Office (ISO) benchmark study are pointing to a new facility in southeast Washington.

That’s according to Stuart McCutcheon, project manager with Emergency Services Consulting International (ESCI), who presented initial studies to the Washington City Council this past week.

“There is a lot of new development that is supported by single lane roads,” McCutcheon explained. “That is something to keep an eye on for potential difficulty getting in and out.”

The preliminary report supports Washington Fire Chief Bill Halmich’s comments last year when he first pitched the plan for a study to evaluate the feasibility of a new fire station in that area. 

At the time, Halmich said a new station in the area of South Point Road would provide better service.

He said the decision is based on a hydrant census of the area, which indicates there is a need for more coverage. Many of the hydrants in the area are located more than 1.5 miles away from the nearest stations.

According to Halmich, the study and a plan for the future would help with the ISO rating. 

There will be funding available for a new fire station on the eastern side of town through the eight-year extension of the city’s half-cent capital improvement sales tax approved in April.

There are three fire stations in the city limits, and a fourth built by the Washington Community Fire Protection District. 

ESCI is an exclusive partner with ISO and performs ISO benchmarking and pre-evaluation studies.

Location Study

According to McCutcheon, ESCI will use several benchmarks, key performance indicators, industry standards and best practices for the analysis.

“We are kicking every rock over to make sure we get the right answer for the city,” he said.

The purpose of the station relocation study is to:

• Assess current and future fire station location needs;

• Evaluate historical/future demand for fire and EMS services;

• Examine staffing and deployment approach from existing/future stations;

• Determine current level of service, effectiveness and equity provided by the fire department; and 

• Define desired level of service.

McCutcheon added that the study will include: Call volume and deployment analysis; response time variation by time-of-day, day-of-week and season; service delivery gap analysis and identification; deployment strategies to address service demand and desired station location; and analysis of community risk factors/target hazards.

McCutcheon said the initial priorities are to ensure ESCI understands the specific questions the city wants answered and will provide an “environmental scan” by actively listening to key stakeholders.

“We want feedback,” he said. “We will provide data to make informed decisions, it is not an opinion, but based on data from the report.”

McCutcheon explained that ESCI will use feedback and concerns to continually tailor its approach, ensuring it meets the city’s needs.

The company then will develop recommendations unique to Washington’s specific needs and readily understood by the public.

Ultimately, ESCI will provide officials with objective data to make informed public safety policy decisions.

McCutcheon said the report is about 75 percent complete and it will be finalized in four to six weeks.

About ESCI

The company is the consulting arm of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and it has been in business for over 40 years, 

ESCI assists cities, counties and special districts with master and strategic planning, agency evaluations, station location, staffing and deployment studies, community risk analysis, executive searches, new hire and promotional testing, classification and compensation, and other related studies.

The company utilizes senior level emergency service experts from all sizes of departments, current with industry standards and trends.