The Seattle Fire Department will adapt to this year’s high-rise West Seattle Bridge closure by adding a medic team and a ladder-truck team west of the Duwamish River.
Those resources will help ensure a fast response to emergency calls despite that shutdown and potential slowdowns through the low-rise West Seattle swing bridge or First Avenue South Bridge, the department announced Friday.
A Medic One vehicle and two paramedics will be deployed in June to Station 26 in South Park, while a ladder truck staffed by four firefighters will be located in Station 37 at High Point. Those add to the area’s complement of six fire stations, six fire engines, one ladder truck, one battalion chief and the medic crew posted at Station 32 in the Alaska Junction.
Vehicles will be brought from a reserve apparatus garage, while $2.5 million for wages and operating costs through 2020 will be covered from existing funding, said fire department spokeswoman Kristin Tinsley.
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) closed the high bridge March 23 because of accelerating shear cracks in the central span. Stabilization and repairs, if possible, are expected to last two years.
General traffic is banned from the low bridge, to reduce delay risks for emergency vehicles, freight and transit.
In an emergency low-bridge closure by SDOT — say the high-rise bridge deteriorates to the brink of collapse, forcing a shutdown of the low bridge beneath — “the [fire] department would focus access into West Seattle via the First Avenue South Bridge,” Tinsley said.