The Kachemak Emergency Services has opened a second, permanent fire station on the west side of its service area on Diamond Ridge Road. An open house for the new station is from 1 to 3 p.m. Jan. 31 at its location at 65705 Diamond Ridge Road. KES moved equipment into the four-bay station just before Christmas, and by the new year already had 11 responses out of the station, said KES Chief Bob Cicciarella.
While not staffed, the Diamond Ridge Fire Station makes equipment available to emergency responders going to incidents on the west side of the service area, including a 4,000-gallon tanker truck, a class A fire engine, a squad crash truck, an ambulance and a brush fire truck.
The squad truck carries equipment like the “jaws of life” used to extract victims from car crashes. KES also has ordered and is having built a fire truck with a 68-foot aerial ladder. When that truck arrives it will be at the Diamond Ridge Station and will be the first aerial truck on the lower Kenai Peninsula.
“It’s pretty exciting and a good asset for the community,” Cicciarella said.
Located near Knott Circle, the Diamond Ridge station is about halfway between the Sterling Highway and West Hill Road, with access downhill in either direction. It is near the Kachemak Nordic Ski Club trails. KES and the ski club are drawing up an agreement to allow skiers to park at the station lot in the back. The station does not have public bathrooms, but does have a bathroom and equipment storage area for staff.
The largely volunteer KES uses a “first response” program. When responding to a medical emergency, one EMT would go directly to the scene of the emergency while another volunteer goes to a fire hall and picks up the ambulance to drive to the scene. Medics with EMT III training also have advance life support, or ALS, equipment, and all EMTs have automatic emergency defibrillators, or AEDs, they carry in their cars.
Cicciarella is looking at a way to have an AED at the fire hall and some system to make it available to the public, perhaps with a combination lock and a direct dial phone to emergency dispatchers to get the lock code.
Responders using equipment out of the Diamond Ridge Fire Station went to the Sterling Highway car crash on Christmas that severely injured an 11-year-old girl.
“We were tested over the Christmas holiday,” Cicciarella said.
KES has its main station, the McNeil Canyon Fire Station, at Mile 11 East End Road near McNeil Canyon Elementary School. That station includes the KES offices and a community hall. Before the Diamond Ridge Fire Station was operational, KES stored equipment at a shed at the Alaska Hardy plant nursery. It still has some equipment there.
Most of the call volume has shifted from the east side of the KES area to the west side, with 68 percent of calls now coming from the west side. KES serves an area that’s generally that area outside of Homer and Kachemak City limits from East End Road to the Sterling Highway just north of Diamond Ridge Road as well as Skyline Drive.
Still to be installed at the Diamond Ridge Fire Station is a 30,000-gallon water tank. A 10,000-gallon tank is at the corner of Diamond Ridge Road and the Sterling Highway.
With the new fire station, neighbors might see a decrease in fire insurance premiums. Cicciarella said ISO, or Insurance Service Office, inspectors will be visiting KES in August. After that ISO will update ratings. A key factor is having at least 4,000 gallons of rolling water available, Cicciarella said, as swell as proximity within 5 miles to a fire station. Not all insurance companies use ISO ratings, and property owners should contact companies about how to get lower rates based on proximity to the new station.
Michael Armstrong can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diamond Ridge Fire Station Open House
When: 1-3 p.m. Jan. 31
Where: 65705 Diamond Ridge Road