Federal loan leads to new fire station in Osburn

Teya Vitu//October 19, 2018

Federal loan leads to new fire station in Osburn

Teya Vitu//October 19, 2018

A new four-bay fire station will be built in Osburn in north Idaho. Image courtesy of Shoshone Fire Protection District No. 1.

Shoshone Fire Protection District No. 1 will build a new headquarters fire station in Osburn with a $1.9 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Osburn is 43 miles east of Coeur d’Alene on Interstate 90.

The firefighters serving the north Idaho cities of Osburn, Silverton and Wallace currently reside in a late-1950s/early-1960s fire station where the sleeping quarters double as the kitchen and living room with Murphy beds folding up into the walls, Fire Chief Aaron Cagle said.

“We are now sleeping right next to the engine bay,” said Cagle, adding that the bedroom/kitchen/living room door opens right into the engine bay.

The new 10,000-square-foot fire station will have four bedrooms, a separate kitchen and living areas. There will also be a community room with capacity for 25 people that will double as an emergency operation center.

“It going to make such a big deal to have separate living quarters,” Cagle said.

USDA also awarded a $25,000 grant to District No. 1 to cover permitting costs, he said.

The new fire station comes in response to the fire district in 2013 taking over ambulance services from a private operator. Before, District No. 1 was a volunteer department with one paid firefighter.

The district now has seven paid fire/emergency medical technicians and 25 volunteers with two professionals assigned to each of the three shifts, Cagle said.

The new fire station, with a four-bay double garage, has the capacity for eight engines, trucks and tenders. This contrasts with the single-engine capacity at the current Osburn station.

“Now we have several unmanned stations, where our trucks sit and wait until we need them,” Cagle said. “We will be able to house all of our apparatus in one place.”

Voters in November 2017 approved a 30-year, $1.9 million bond for a new fire station. The USDA loan lowers the cost of the bond, as the district will not have to shop for funding on the open market, Cagle said.

“This will be the first building the district has owned,” Cagle said. “We’ve been renting buildings since the 1920s.”

Shoshone Fire Protection District No. 1 covers an area of 65 square miles, larger than San Francisco. The district serves about 5,500 residents, just under half of Shoshone County’s population.

District No. 1 was one of 88 projects in 27 states funded with $181 million in USDA Community Facilities Direct Loan Program funding. One other Idaho recipient was the Wendell Senior Center in the Magic Valley, which received a $9,800 loan and a $5,200 grant to complete the funding for a new roof. The senior center had already invested $60,966 and received a $59,000 Rural Development  Community Facilities loan, a $30,000 USDA Community Facilities grant, and $150,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding.