Newspaper Archive of
Cheney Free Press
Cheney , Washington
July 9, 2015     Cheney Free Press
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July 9, 2015

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NEWS Thursday, July 9, 2015 sf li By JOHN McCALLUM Editor One of the units used on the Fish Lake fire June 17 was a unit some people may not know existed, others may have forgotten existed and most might not ever see - a fire train. Burlington Northern Santa Fe spokesman Gus Melonas said when the fire broke out the railroad dispatched its fire train based in Spokane to the blaze. The 4-5-car train features three fiat cars loaded with a total of 11 tanks carrying 3,100 gallons of water. Melonas said each train is mounted with hose sprayers that can be used to directly fight fires. The trains also have the capability of transferring water to other fire agencies wa- ter tender trucks, which is how the Spokane train was used at Fish Lake. Spokane County Fire Dis- trict 3 Deputy Fire Chief Kelly Jennings said BNSF pulled the train up alongside the Fish Lake fire and parked it on a siding just off Scribner Road. The Contributed photo BNSF Burlington Northern Santa Fe's Spokane-based fire train is shown above at a small fire in Indian Canyon this spring. Deployment of the train on last month's Fish Lake fire provided need replenish- ment of water supplies in the field. district's tenders then hooked up and received water, rather than traveling to the nearest hy- drants located in Cheney, near Spokane Memorial Gardens Cemetery or in the Windsor residential area - all several miles away from the fire. "We were actually able to save quite a bit of road time," Jennings said. "They've essen- tially made portable hydrants for us to hook up to and get water." Melonas said the fire trains in Washington are holdovers from the days when the for- mer Spokane, Portland and Seattle line operated the exist- ing tracks. Besides Spokane, trains are located in Pasco, Wishram along the Columbia Gorge, Bend, Oregon; Vancou- ver, Washington; Tacoma and Seattle, with the Pasco train also possessing cars carrying foam retardant needed to fight chemical and oil fires. As train traffic increases -- about 40-45 BNSF trains now pass daily through the Cheney area alone - Melonas said it has become imperative for the railroad to not only make sure there is sufficient fire fighting capabilities available but also that fire prevention measures are increased. Crews working on tracks carry foam retardant sprayers with them that are used in conjunction with cut- ting and grinding equipment. Melonas said it's necessary to grind the rails in order to shape them for optimal perfor- mance, with work often taking place at night and factors such as heat and wind taken into ac- count in the planning process. Locomotive exhaust stacks are regularly cleaned and main- tained, and BNSF continually upgrades its locomotive fleet with new engines. The railroad sprays structures and bridges with fire retardant, and also has a trackside vegetation-spraying program to remove weeds and other plants. Melonas said crews make twice a year spraying passes through Cheney, more if neces- sary. With the summer prog- nosis calling for continued drought conditions and above normal temperatures, Melonas said they plan on doing more spraying while also conducting extra track patrols to keep track of conditions. "It's an important compo- nent," he added. "We want to ensure the safest operating practices on our railroad." If another fire should break out along BNSF tracks, the Spokane fire train is not the only option. Jennings said the railroad parked a smaller, gray- ish railcar in Cheney with a fire turret mounted on top. "That's there, and with a phone call they (BNSF) can get that out to us," he said. John McCallum can be reached at Airway Heights proposes using garbag saving toward public safety By AL STOVER Staff Reporter The city of Airway Heights is seven months into its new agreement with Spokane County and the city of Spokane for solid waste disposal services and things seem to be going well. Back in November they entered into an agreement with Spokane County and Spokane for with gate fees of $70.50 per ton. The City Coun- cil passed a resolution that legally binds the agreement at its Monday meeting. According to the resolution, Spokane County must prepare a Solid Waste Management Plan for Airway Heights, as well as the other cities and unincorporated areas within the county. One upside to the agreement is that residents and local businesses may notice a reduction in the disposal portion of their garbage bill. The city is Feken resigns from Medical Lake commission By AL STOVER StaffReporter After several months, the Medical Lake Planning Commission met June 25 with one less member in thL~"i'Kffks. City Adminis- trator Doug Ross informed the Planning Commission that Lois Feken resigned from her position as com- mission chair. "Lois (Feken) thought it was time to use pursue other things," Ross said. Ross also introduced Tammy Roberson, Fek- en's replacement. The commission will appoint a chair at a future meeting. The committee dis- cussed the development on North Stanley Street. Ross explained that it consists of four lots, which will be made into duplexes. "It's a short plat and we do those adminis- tratively," Ross said. "If it's five lots or more, the impacts will be greater and that's when it goes to the public." Ross said the develop- ers restaked the area to prevent any impact to the wetlands. Commission member Peg James asked about the recent activity in the old Bruchi's Building on Lefevre Street and the Westside Pizza Build- ing next to the veteri- nary clinic. Ross said the Bruchi's building has a new owner who applied for a business permit. He added that he has not heard anything relating to Westside Pizza. "A lot of those real estate transactions take place at the Spokane County courthouse, not in the city," Ross said. Ross informed the commission that the re- cycling center will con- tinue to take batteries and oil after the city shuts it down when they begin its new curbside recycling program. The building will be used to store some of the city's equipment. The next Planning Commission meeting will be July 30. AI Stover can be reached at considering asking resi- dents to use the savings to help fund public safety. Earlier this year the city adopted goals for 2015-16, one of them be- ing enhancement of pub- lic safety services to meet the community's needs. "The city looked at continued population growth, as well as the ef- fects the recession had on services," City Manager Albert Tripp said. "Dur- ing that time, the needs for public safety increased though we didn't neces- sarily meet them at the time." Methods the city pro- poses for increasing public safety include hiring two additional police officers, part-time firefighters and upgrading equipment for both departments. Tripp said the cost for wages and equipment upgrades would equate to about $360,000 annually for seven years. Aside from using the savings from the garbage bill reduction, the city is reintroducing the emer- gency medical services (EMS) six-year levy in the Nov. 3 general election to help pay for public services. The levy will increase property taxes 25 cents per $1,000 as- sessed value. If residents approve of the city using the savings toward public safety, it would receive $123,963 per year and increase over time. If the EMS levy is ap- proved, it would receive a total of $237,995 in the first year. "Does it fully meet the need? No, it doesn't but it does address some of those needs," Tripp said. "It's part of a means to a solution to meet and enhance public safety standards." If residents do not ap- prove of the proposal, the savings will go to them. Tripp said the city will reach out to residents and take feedback on its Open City Hall forum on its new website. He added the sav- ings can be seen online so residents and businesses can see what they would potentially save. A1 Stover can be reached at DENTAL CLINIC Bruce C. DDS Cheney in the K-12 Back-to-School 8/20 Fall Sports Preview 9/10 EWU Back-to-School 9/17 EWU Homecoming 11/5 Winter Sports Preview 12/10 /8 PAGE ................... $200" 1/4 PAGE ................... $350* PAGE ................... $656* FULL PAGE ............ $1,1 87* SPOT COLOR ............. $35.0,hru PROCESS COLOR ....... $60-,hr0 *Divided by five publications 5 Publication Deadline August 10, 2015 First Publication date August 20, 2015