Arlington's new fire chief, Bruce Stedman, inspects the demolition work going on at the old Station 46. The fire station will be extensively remodeled to better serve the city over the next year. Photo by Sarah Arney.
As I sit at my battery-operated computer to write a story about Arlington's new fire chief, water is swirling at my doorstep and fire truck sirens are shrieking in the distance.
Fire Chief Bruce Stedman told me during an interview before the storm hit that he and his wife discussed moving to Washington state for some time before applying for the Arlington position. When he was called for an interview, they were thrilled, and when they arrived in Arlington, "We fell in love," Stedman said.
They were tired of traffic and concrete in their lifetime home in Orange County, Calif., and Stedman's brother lives in Bothell while a sister lives in Vancouver.
Stedman started his career as a fireman at age 19 in Las Alamedas. He worked his way up the ranks, serving in command staff positions for 18 years, and finally, for two years as chief of the Alhambra Fire Department.
"I spent 13 to 15 hours a day, carpooling to and from work," he said.
Now 51 years old, Stedman married his high school sweetheart, Susan, 34 years ago, and they raised one son, now 18, who attends Chapman University.
Officially sworn in at the Dec. 6 City Council meeting, Chief Stedman is leaping into the fray of a remodel, and, as it now turns out, an extreme flood situation.
One of Stedman's strengths, said City Councilwoman Marilyn Oertle, was his experience in managing disasters.
"I've been involved in some construction projects as well," Stedman said.
He was impressed with the city's hiring process. After being recruited by Prothman Associates, he enjoyed interacting with five different boards and the firefighters, in addition to the executive staff.
"When it was all done, I felt at home with the process," Stedman said.
In his first week on duty, Fire Chief Stedman was initiated into the Arlington lifestyle when he accompanied the Santa Run, walking with Santa and the elaborately decorated fire truck to collect donations for the food bank in the rain.
"This is the reason I came to Arlington," Stedman said. "I am so impressed with these firefighters, and what they are willing to do for the community."
Indeed, driving Santa around town every evening for more than two weeks is definitely not in the job description.
At the end of the interview, Stedman had only one question. "When does the rain stop again?"
I had to be honest.
"It doesn't," I told him. "If you are lucky, you'll get a couple weeks of sun in spring and a few weeks in summer, but if it doesn't rain for two weeks, the locals start to whine about drought."
Nonetheless, Stedman said he is very excited to be here.
Fire station remodel
As a result of a refinance earlier this year, the city of Arlington found the funds to proceed on a much needed remodel of Fire Station 46, the city's historical first fire station, built on McLeod Street, two blocks from City Hall. Before the station was constructed in the early 1960s, the fire station was in the ground floor of City Hall.
The project includes replacing the crew's living space and the roof over the truck bays, said Paul Ellis, assistant administrator and manager of the project.
"We removed the old crew's living space and are replacing it with a new two-story 4,000-square-foot building. The new building is designed to be used as crew's quarters, or office space should its use change down the road," Ellis said.
About half the materials from the demolition of Station 46 will be recycled.
"The metal and concrete products are being separated for recycle," Ellis said. "We are keeping the large wood beams along with everything useable, such as the hot water tank, furnace, light fixtures."
The wood framing and sheetrock that could not be reused fit into one dumpster.
The general contractor is Synergy Construction and the project cost is $1.3 million.