GIG HARBOR, Wash. — A request for $80 million will be on the Aug. 2 midterm ballot to fund construction on a new training facility for Gig Harbor Fire.
“We have a lot of small stuff. The training tower puts it all in one place,” said Assistant Fire Chief John Johnson.
The multi-level facility will allow fire crews to train and hone their skills in a variety of scenarios. Johnson believes this training facility will be beneficial for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, it keeps Gig Harbor’s firefighters in the city when they need to participate in live-fire training.
“Currently, we’re going to North Bend, which is a few hours’ commute up,” Johnson said. “We get a few hours of training, and then we have to come back. So that’s overtime costs for all of those folks to do that, and it takes our apparatuses and our firefighters away from the district.”
Firefighters also currently have to participate in live fire training at least once every three years to maintain their certification. Johnson said the proposed facility would make training more convenient and accessible.
“We can train, not only once every three years, but we can train multiple times a year. We control our own training,” Johnson said.
Plans for the facility were released in 2009, but the project had to be put on hold due to the Great Recession.
The project’s price tag is $80 million, and residents will be able to vote on the plan in the upcoming ballot for August 2.
Chief Johnson believes it’ll be money well spent, because it will allow crews to gain knowledge that could be lifesaving.
“Firefighting skills are finite, if you don’t use them, you lose them,” Johnson says.
This is projected to cost homeowners with a property worth at least $500,000 around $9.90 per month over a period of 20 years. In addition to the training facility, the project’s funds would cover the renovation of four other fire stations in Gig Harbor, and replace the city’s busiest station.