New bill would bring more funding for local fire stations

NINE MILE FALLS, Wash. — Whenever there’s a fire, we expect firefighters as soon as possible. One local fire district says limited resources make that a lot more challenging.

However, more money could be on the way for those first responders.

It may have happened nearly 30 years ago, but Bonnie Cobb remembers it like it was yesterday.

“We were just spreading water with a little garden hose. We didn’t even know the danger we were in at that point,” said Cobb.

By the end of Firestorm 1991, one person had died, and more than 100 homes had burned. Bonnie and her daughter Bethany were some of the lucky ones.

“It was pretty devastating. A lot of the houses got burnt up and a lot of people lost a lot of property,” said Bethany McCann, Bonnie’s daughter.

“With that happening, we got educated pretty fast,” said Cobb.

It’s that education that inspired Bonnie and her daughter to volunteer with Spokane County Fire District 5.

“After I thought about it, I thought, ‘This is a way I can give back, so I should do this,'” said Cobb.

However, giving back hasn’t been as easy as they would have hoped.

“The funding just isn’t there,” Cobb said.

A recent example of this was when the fire district needed a new engine.

“We try to go after grants, because with our little fire department, we can’t afford to get brand new ones,” said McCann.

The one they found needed a lot of work. Thanks to a grant provided by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), they were able to refurbish that engine.

Unfortunately, these grants aren’t always enough. That’s why DNR introduced House Bill 2413 – a way to make sure fire districts are always given the money they need.

“For fire districts, one of the things it would do, is it would increase the number of funding for various programs,” said Guy Gifford, Fire Prevention Coordinator with the Department of Natural Resources.

“It gets them the better equipment to get to fight the fire and not have it grow so big,” said McCann.

Because when it comes to fighting fires, Bonnie and Bethany know firsthand – you can never be too prepared.