EAST WENATCHEE — Douglas County Fire District 2 is growing.
The district was awarded $1,070,724 last month through a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant to pay for five more career firefighters.
“This is a huge boost to the district’s financial stability as we continue to expand services and protection to the people who live, work and visit our area,” Fire District 2 Commissioner Bob Black said in a news release.
The SAFER grant (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) provides funding to select fire agencies nationwide and, for District 2, will pay a percentage of the wages and benefits for the new firefighters over three years.
The district is recruiting jointly with Chelan County Fire District 1; together they’ve received roughly 120 applicants, said Assistant Chief Cam Phillips.
“We’re just going through the process of whittling through those now,” Phillips said.
He expects the district will officially hire the applicants in January. Once aboard, the district will have 20 full-time personnel, compared to nine in 2015.
The growth was precipitated by a 2015 levy lid lift approved by voters. Since then, the district, which stretches from East Wenatchee to Rock Island, has worked to expand its services.
The fire commission recently authorized a $2.7 million budget for the district to buy two fire engines and a ladder truck and the district has applied for a building permit to construct a new fire station in the north end of East Wenatchee.
“Having this influx of money will allow us to keep up with the growth of the district without depleting our reserve funds,” said Chief Dave Baker in the release.
Phillips said construction of the East Wenatchee station, located at 35th Street and Northwest Cascade Avenue, is expected to begin in the spring.
The district is also planning to replace its Rock Island station. Officials are in the early design phase and construction wouldn’t start until the new East Wenatchee station is complete.