Some of what’s happened in the past two and a half years of West Seattle Bridge closure will change when it reopens – no more low-bridge restrictions, for example. Some things will stay – like all those new speed humps/cushions installed in various neighborhoods. But at least one major matter remains unsettled: The fate of Seattle Fire Ladder 13 and Medic 26.
A few months after the bridge closed, those two units were activated from SFD reserves and added to West Seattle/South Park to supplement what’s already based at the six area fire stations – Ladder 13 was added to Station 37 in Sunrise Heights, Medic 26 was added to Station 26 in South Park. The additions doubled the local availability of those two types of apparatus – previously the only ladder truck and medic unit in the area were Ladder 11 and Medic 32 at Station 32 in the Junction/Triangle area. We don’t know the total cost of basing those resources here, but in the original May 2020 announcement, SFD said that just for the remainder of that year, “funding required for staffing the two new units, apparatus maintenance and fuel, and room accommodations at the fire stations [would be] approximately $2.5 million.” Whether they’ll be deactivated – meaning that in responses where an extra truck or medic unit is needed, they’d be sent from outside the area – has yet to be decided.
A source suggested that Fire Chief Harold Scoggins supports keeping them here, so we asked SFD first; spokesperson Kristin Tinsley would say only that “The future of Ladder 13 and Medic 26 will be determined in the budgetary process.” That process begins shortly, with the mayor presenting a proposed budget and the City Council starting months of reviewing it, culminating with finalization of a budget in November. So we asked West Seattle/South Park Councilmember Lisa Herbold – who also chairs the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, which among other things deals with fire/police issues. She meets regularly with Chief Scoggins and told us that in August, “I brought the issue up with him as well and requested that both be maintained. It was apparent to me in that conversation that the Chief understands the clear need for these resources to be maintained.” Right now, SFD confirms, the two units are funded through the end of this year, so they’ll stay at least a few months beyond the bridge reopening. If you have comments for the mayor about this or anything else as he drafts a budget, contact info is here; council contact info is here.