Kennewick FD saw 16% rise in call volume in 2021, prompting expansion

KENNEWICK, Wash. — According to Fire Chief Chad Michael, the city fire department needs an expansion.

“We’ve had some changes with law enforcement legislation, and that’s been a contributing factor. We’ve got a lot of mental health and drug issues here in our community,” said Chief Michael.

He said the fast-growing population is also putting a strain on services.

“Last year we had a 16% growth, and this year we’re on track to have another 17% growth,” said Chief Michael.

A substantial call volume increase last year, which the department thought might stabilize. However, Chief Michael said, “We thought maybe that we would see it go back down. We thought maybe ‘21 might be kind of just an abnormal year. That has not been the case.”

New Fire Station #1 coming June 2023

In the hope of accommodating this call volume increase, crews are working on the new Kennewick Fire Station #1, located on S. Dayton St. and W. 8th Ave in Kennewick. Construction of the new station broke ground in June of this year, and Chief Michael said construction should be done and fully operational by June 2023.

Chief Michael said, “The fire department has worked in this building since 1977. So we usually anticipate about a 40 to 50 year lifespan out of our buildings and we’ve gotten that out of this building.”

Chief Michael said they’re moving from their 1,400 square foot building to a brand new 23,000 square foot facility.

Medic unit pilot program underway

Not only is Kennewick Fire working to get into that new station, but on Monday they kicked off a new pilot program for a second dedicated medic unit for Fire Station #2.

“I think the first day, we had 55 calls, which is a very busy day for us, so they were out the whole day on calls,” said Chief Michael. “It’s been a big help.”

He said after their six-month evaluation, they’ll take a look at the benefit from having another dedicated ambulance staffed. So far, it has been clear it has helped significantly.

He said, “We’re quite confident that we’re going to see quite a bit of benefit from it.”

He also said it’s not just Kennewick. Chief Michael said Richland, Pasco and the county districts are experiencing an increased demand for services.

Chief Michael said the Tri-Cities Fire Departments are working very closely together on a project coming in January. A ‘Standard of Cover,’ he said, discusses hazards in the community, and addresses how well-equipped the departments are to handle them.

READ: Kennewick’s fifth fire station breaks ground today