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July 3, 2022

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Camas eyes $35M plan for Camas-Washougal Fire Department

Capital facilities would be upgraded over next decade

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Camas officials are one step closer to approving a Camas-Washougal Fire Department capital facilities plan showing the fire department will require roughly $35 million worth of fire station and apparatus improvements and replacements over the next decade.

Camas-Washougal Fire Marshal Ron Schumacher provided some background on the plan this week.

“In 2021, Camas City Council authorized the Camas-Washougal Fire Department to contract with Mackenzie to develop a capital facilities plan,” Schumacher stated in his staff report for the public hearing. “This plan both evaluates the current condition of department facilities and establishes a framework for the development and maintenance of department facilities. Additionally, a robust capital facilities plan is legally required to disburse previously collected fire impact fees.”

Consultants from Mackenzie outlined the fire department’s capital needs during the Camas City Council’s earlier workshop on Monday.

The consultants’ report shows the joint Camas-Washougal Fire Department will need to replace its headquarters — Fire Station 41 next to Camas City Hall in downtown Camas — and the Washougal-based Fire Station 43 within the next three years; build a new satellite station in northeast Camas in five to nine years; replace four fire engines, one ladder truck and two brush rigs; and replace $200,000 worth of rescue tools to keep up with the needs of a growing city.

The fire department is dealing with aging infrastructure, including a headquarters that has “no future growth opportunities” and does not meet seismic code for an essential facility or current Americans with Disabilities Act requirements; three of four frontline fire engines that are at the end of their normal lifespan; and a fire station in Washougal that also does not meet seismic or ADA codes and “has no future growth opportunities.”

The consultants recommended Camas officials consider replacing the fire department’s headquarters and Washougal station in two to three years; approve “minor improvements” to the 21-year-old Fire Station 42 in northwest Camas within the next decade; and build a satellite fire station north of Lacamas Lake within the next nine years to help accommodate the city’s developing North Shore area.

“Washougal will need one new station if not two before 2030,” said Cathy Bowman, of Mackenzie.

The consultants said the city will need roughly 1 acre of land to build a new 19,400-square-foot fire department headquarters, which will house the department’s administration, fire marshal’s office, firefighters and vehicles and gear associated with a fully operational fire station. They estimate the cost of the new headquarters will be between $12.6 million and $13.9 million.

The satellite stations, including a replacement for the Washougal-based Fire Station 43, should be around 13,000 square feet and will likely cost $8.5 million to $9.4 million each, the consultants said.

The city council also considered a presentation by FCS Group project manager Martin Chaw during the council’s workshop.

Camas has not increased its fire impact fees — which cities impose on new development as a condition for development approval to help pay for additional demands on city services and public facilities — in nearly 20 years.

Chaw showed how Camas and Washougal might recoup some of the costs associated with replacing aging fire stations and fire equipment through updated fire index fees.

The city of Camas’ current fire impact fee structure charges 20 cents per square foot for new residential developments and 40 cents per square foot for new nonresidential developments.

Had Camas officials “indexed” the fees to account for increased costs and inflation, the city’s fire impact fees would now be 30 cents per square foot for residential developments and 61 cents per square foot for nonresidential developments, Chaw said.

Of the city’s estimated $35.1 million in fire capital facilities needs, about $22.7 million can be connected to future growth, Chaw said.

The city council will discuss updating the fire impact fees once it has gone through the review and approval process for updating the fire department’s fire capital facilities plan.

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