The Wenatchee Valley Fire Department's (WV Fire) new station in Rock Island is almost ready to open.

The station will replace the existing one in the town of roughly 1,400, which is small and has aged out of its ability accommodate modern fire apparatus.

Fire Chief Brian Brett says the new station will also greatly reduce response times in a critical area of need.

"That corridor is very busy with traumatic events along the highway (State Route 28), as well as a history of fires out there. It's going to reduce our response time down to approximately four minutes in Rock Island proper and get us out on the highway where we have a lot of accidents in a much faster time as well."

WV Fire is still waiting for two of its newest hires who will staff Rock Island to complete their required courses at the Washington Fire Training Academy in North Bend before the station can officially open.

In addition to making the community more safe, Brett says the new station will bring some help to the pocketbooks of Rock Island's residents by significantly reducing their property insurance premiums.

"The Community Protection Class, which is the grade the insurance industry gives a community for its fire preparedness, is going to be substantially reduced in Rock Island. It's currently rated as a 9, with 10 being practically uninsurable. But the new station should bring Rock Island down to a 5, which is what Douglas County's current best rating is."

Brett adds that fire protection rates in the cities of Wenatchee and East Wenatchee could also soon be going down thanks to the recent consolidation of the area's fire districts into WV Fire.

The Washington Surveying & Rating Bureau will visit the Wenatchee Valley and WV Fire on February 9 to assess a possible reclassification of its protection status.

The new Rock Island fire station should be open by this spring.

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