Response times up in Northwest Seattle due to Station 31 closure

SEATTLE - Friday, Seattle Fire officials announced a plan to build a new fire station in northwest Seattle to replace the current Station 31.

In June, Station 31 was closed due to mold.

Fire officials say the investigation into the mold led to the realization that the station, originally built in 1973, is outdated.

“When we looked at the list of issues associated with the fire station, already understanding that the fire station was too small for the fire departments needs now, it just didn’t make sense for us to continue doing one-off fixes,” said Chris Potter with Finance and Administrative Services with the city of Seattle.

However, closing the station impacted the Northwest Seattle neighborhood.

“Our response times have all increased as we expected that to be,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins.

According to Seattle Fire Department numbers, basic life support incident response times increased on average in Station 31’s district by 1 minute and 26 seconds. The numbers show from May 1st to June 16th, response times took about 3:23 minutes; From June 18th to July 31st (While Station 31 was closed) response times took about 4:49 minutes.

The records show an increase of about 1:49 minutes in advanced life support incidents. The numbers show from May 1st to June 16th response times were at an average of 2:56 minutes. From June 18th to July 31st average for response times was 4:45.

Numbers for fire response show an average increase of 1:32 minutes within Station 31's district. The numbers from May 1st to June 16th show an average response time was 4:14 minutes. The numbers from June 18th to July 31st show the average response time was 5:46 minutes.

According to the Seattle Fire Annual Report these response time numbers do not meet the national standards for fire response and basic life support response.

“If I do have another fire, where they’re coming from or how long it’s going to take. Definitely takes away a little of that security of, ‘Oh, they’re just across the street; it’s fine,'” said Josh Willett, who lives near the station and says he had fire crews help him recently for a small kitchen fire.

Scoggins says his team is doing everything they can while Station 31 is closed.

“They are committed and spending a great deal of time in that district during the day,” he said.

In the interim, the crew and resources from Station 31 are distributed in surrounding stations.

Officials say crews are doing things like hydrant and building inspections within 31’s district, so they are close by if there is an emergency.

Some neighbors say they are OK with the increase in response times if it means fire fighters get a new station.

“A little bit increased response time is worth it for their safety though,” said Shane Stauffer, who lives near the station.

Fire officials say the northwest neighborhood will see firefighters sooner than it will take to build a new station.

Instead, the plan is to create an interim temporary station in the neighborhood that will operate just like a regular station.

There is no timeline yet for either of these projects.