It’s been a week and a half since local firefighters moved into the new Fire Station 32 in the West Seattle Triangle. You’ve likely seen its gleaming, glass-laden exterior at 38th/Alaska – now, take a look inside. We had a longstanding request in for a tour, and got it this past week, once the move-in was well-enough along for a visit.
The $18 million station opened 10 years after the date originally projected when voters passed the 2003 Fire Levy (we reported on the schedule changes in 2015). It is now officially the central fire station for this area – home to Ladder 11, Engine 32, and Medic 32, as it had been before, plus the area’s battalion-chief unit, Battalion 7, moved to Station 32, from Station 29 in North Admiral.
The new station has three floors plus a basement. Our tour began up top, in the kitchen/dining area, known in fire stations as “the beanery.”
This one opens onto a north-facing deck, which has a barbecue and a cornhole-game setup:
From the east end of the deck, there’s a peek view of the downtown skyline. The third floor also holds the living quarters, including individual bunk rooms:
And from the third floor, as at least one reader told us he’d noticed through the windows, there are poles for sliding down to the apparatus bay at the ground floor.
Stairs and an elevator are also available. If you use the pole, we were told somberly, you have to know the proper technique – hook your forearm around it, don’t grip it with your hands, for example. At any rate, they’re part of tradition and history. The latter also was acknowledged with old photos we saw propped up on desks and counters, waiting to be put up – this one shows crews at the original Station 32, going on a century ago, in The Junction:
And the new station’s predecessor, circa 1966 –
Some of what’s changed over the decades – technology. At two spots in the station, they have controls for the nearby signal, to stop traffic if they’re heading out:
And then there’s a low-tech tradition, the “day journal” log book in the watch office on the 2nd floor. This is still kept by hand:
We’re told the department has some of these that date back into the 1800s. The watch office overlooks the apparatus bay, where Engine 32 and Ladder 11 were parked during our visit:
There’s also parking for firefighters’ own vehicles, six covered spaces on the southwest side of the station. And bicycle parking (storage) inside:
The ground floor and basement also have a lot of space dedicated to the gear and equipment necessary for the firefighters to do their work and stay prepared for it – including a fitness room:
On the second floor, there’s a training center, one of the new features that the larger new station made possible:
There’s space for relaxation, too:
And many rooms for storage of equipment:
There’s also room to work on equipment – say, the saws that help ventilate smoke from burning buildings need cleaning:
The public entrance to the station is on the 38th SW side, and yes, you can still show up and ask to have your blood pressure measured.
This fall, SFD says, you’ll get a chance for a firsthand look inside Station 32, designed by architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and built by Howard S. Wright Construction; a public open house is expected to be scheduled in September or October, once the move-in is fully complete.
SIDE NOTE: As for temporary Station 32’s site on 40th SW in The Junction, it’s always been landbanked for future development as a park – remember that the city’s hoping to hear from you via a survey and at a mini “open house” at the September 10th West Seattle Farmers’ Market.
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