(WSB photo of Ladder 13 and crew at scene of recent South Park fire)
The extra fire truck added to West Seattle in February of last year will be gone after this Sunday. So say multiple sources who called and e-mailed to tell us that Ladder 13, based at Highland Park’s Station 11, will be taken out of service as of Monday morning, leaving Engine 11 alone at the station.
Ladder 13’s primary purpose, as explained when it first arrived, was to make sure West Seattle would be adequately covered despite the fact Spokane Street Viaduct Widening Project work complicated WS Bridge access for the emergency units that come from the other side of the bay when there’s a major incident. Now, the new 1st Avenue South onramp is available for emergency vehicles – per a newly installed sign on the westbound SSV. (However, last year it was also explained that Ladder 13 would help cover South Park, which won’t have fast access from crews east of the Duwamish till the new SP Bridge opens more than a year from now.)
The eventual end of Ladder 13 – commissioned just for this task, not a pre-existing truck number moved from elsewhere – was mentioned here back in February, when it was a topic of conversation during our stop at Station 11 on Neighbor Appreciation Day. The fire station is supposed to get a seismic/safety upgrade soon – as explained here – and we were told in February that would happen after Ladder 13’s departure. The timetable is one of the things we’re asking SFD about for a followup, but in the meantime, if you see Ladder 13’s crew out and about in the next few days, you might consider taking the opportunity to say thanks for their West Seattle/South Park service.
ADDED FRIDAY AFTERNOON: We had asked SFD some followup questions. Spokesperson Kyle Moore notes that West Seattle’s “permanent ladder truck,” Ladder 11, will continue to be based at Station 32 in The Triangle, staffed by a four-person crew. Regarding South Park, he says:
South Park is served by Fire Station 26 located at 800 South Cloverdale Street. The station is staffed 24 hours a day with four firefighters and a fire engine.
The loss off Ladder 13 will have a nominal impact on the response times to the South Park area. The Seattle Fire Department looked at response times with the bridge closure in order to ensure the residents of South Park received the same level of medical and fire care. Our analysis shows that response times were not significantly affected by the bridge closure.
He also notes that the Station 11 work isn’t likely to start before early 2014.