Ketchikan’s new downtown fire station has been operating since May, but the dedication ceremony was Tuesday. Sen. Bert Stedman was on hand to help uncouple the fire hose, a substitute for the traditional ribbon-cutting.
The ceremony opened with a bagpipe performance by the fire department’s pipe and drum corps. Fire Chief Frank Share emceed the event, and thanked many people for contributing to the project, including Stedman, who helped garner state funds for the $12.7-million station
Mayor Lew Williams III said the project took cooperation.
“It’s been a community supported project,” he said. “Everybody got involved, including not only the public officials, but community residents. We did finally get to a location right here, and it turned out to be a beautiful location and a beautiful facility.”
Williams lauded Stedman for obtaining funds for various local projects.
“There’s just not much you can say,” Williams said. “He does the job. He doesn’t come down here and hassle us. He just gets the work done. He asks us what we need done and he does it.”
Stedman also was Wednesday’s Fourth of July parade grand marshal.
Stedman said the project took teamwork, and some political finesse. He said Southeast projects aren’t always a priority for representatives elsewhere in the state.
“So we cooked up this conspiracy that we’re going to put some fire stations in our district, but we’re going to have to add additional fire stations to get additional support,” he said. “I get teased from time to time in both communities. People look at the fire stations and say boy that’s an expensive fire station, and I go yeah, it’s an expensive fire station. They’re thinking the cost of their fire station, I’m thinking the cost of all the fire stations we had to build in Anchorage to get our fire stations.”
Stedman said the new Ketchikan fire station will be great for firefighters and the community for a long time.
“I don’t see any reason why this facility can’t stand the test of time,” he said. “It’s well-built, it’s waterproof.”
The new station includes an indoor training facility, a parking lot for fire station staff who previously used public parking; new, larger bays for fire engines; and quarters for on-duty firefighters,.
It also has a small museum area with large display windows to house “Grandma,” the city’s vintage 1925 Seagraeve fire engine, and other historical items.
The state grant paid for $5 million of the project. The remainder was paid for through voter-approved bonds.