Banks Fire District, Buxton, COMMUNITY

Inside the new Buxton fire station

The front of the building and parking lot at at Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 on October 28, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley

Crafted with locally-milled logs on the exterior, the new Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14, located near Buxton along Highway 26 across from Hornshuh Creek Road, opened this month — characterized as a “soft opening” by the district — to use by firefighters with the Banks Fire District. 

A grand opening is planned for when COVID-19 safety measures allow for a safe event, said Scott Adams, a spokesperson for the Banks Fire District, but in the meantime, the last touches are being put into the building and property so that firefighters can use the building to stage from for the region’s frequent car crashes and brush fires. 

The final completion of the building will mark a process that began in earnest in 2017 when voters within the Banks Fire District approved Measure No. 34-279 during the November 7 election, passing a $4 million bond that funded, among other line items, the purchase and construction of a new station to replace a small garage-like structure that sat in Buxton proper. Of the $4 million bond, $3.5 million was dedicated to the new station.

The old Buxton station in 2017. photo: Chas Hundley

The measure passed with overwhelming support, eventually winning with 65.42% voting ‘yes’ for the measure compared to 34.58% who voted no.

From there, the building took shape in a way that highlights just how these sorts of projects are often completed in the Banks area: With the support of the community. The land for the new building, located right on Highway 26 for quick access to the main arterial of the area, wasn’t purchased. Instead, it was donated by the Hornshuh family in honor of their parents, Fred and Carol Hornshuh. Both were staunch supporters of the district, with Fred Hornshuh serving on Banks Fire District Budget Committee, while their son, Captain Mark Hornshuh, has been a firefighter and paramedic with Banks Fire since 1988. 

Five Star Builders in Banks won the contract to construct the building.

Other donations rolled in. Among them, Five Star Builders, who donated time and materials to the build, notably the striking cedar logs that make the exterior of the structure fit aesthetically with the background of the forested region it resides in. Donations and grants rolled in from FEMA, Hampton Lumber, Life Flight, individuals and families in the area, and local businesses, including Pihl Excavating, Schmidlin Farms, Stimson Lumber, Swatco, and more.

A plaque showing some of the donors to the building and site. Photo courtesy Banks Fire District #13

“We have worked very hard to not only keep the base project (the station itself) within budget, but with the work of staff in writing grants and the volunteers and donations, we have been able to greatly expand the project with add-ons such as the training pond, training structure and the landing pad,” Adams said in an email to the Banks Post.

“Everything that we’ve done with this building is try to meet as many purposes as we can,” said Adams during a tour of the mostly-completed station. He noted just how much of the planning and actual construction of the building was driven by the needs and input of local community members, and said that even the very look of the building rose from a desire to make it feel like it fits with the feel of the rural, wooded environment and industry of the area. 

A large room near the front entrance can be used for regular training sessions for the district, and it can also be used by members of the Buxton community as a meeting place, much like the training room at the main station in Banks is used for community events and meetings such as the Banks Chamber of Commerce. The building, Adams said, is fully ADA accessible. 

The training and community room at Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 on October 28, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley

The room could serve as an unexpected boon to the district during the coronavirus pandemic; because of limitations on how many firefighters can gather in a given room, the new space can allow firefighters to receive training by way of Zoom and teleconferencing sessions, separated physically from the Banks station.

The building and property the station sits on is planned both as a Banks Fire District property and as a location other agencies — such as Life Flight, the Oregon Department of Forestry and others — can use as a staging ground for emergencies and as a training site. A small pond with a capacity of 200,000 gallons can be used by aircraft and ground vehicles to fight fires, and also to train first responders for water rescues. A multi-story reconfigurable fire training facility for rappelling, roof entry, live burn training, search and rescue training and more sits facing the highway, and there’s a helicopter pad that will be able to be used as a landing site instead of Highway 26, a safer option that also could mean less impact to traffic during serious vehicle crashes on Highways 26 and 47. Utility lines along the property were buried in another move to increase safety for aircraft landing on the site.

The pond under construction and training tower in the background at Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 on October 28, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley

The helicopter landing pad at Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 on October 28, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley

Staffing for the station is still being determined based on the needs of the district, crew availability and call volume, Adams said, noting that the plan is for the station to be fully staffed eventually, though it’s not a guarantee that firefighters will be there 24 hours a day. For overnight and longer stays, a number of amenities round out the experience for firefighters. Three small bunk rooms with two beds each provide sleeping areas; there’s a relaxation room with comfortable chairs and a screen for movies and video games, a weight and fitness room, picnic areas outside the building, a fully equipped kitchen, showers, laundry facilities, and a stunning view of the coast range and active farming areas directly behind the building. 

A simple bunkroom at Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 on October 28, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley

The newly furnished kitchen at at Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 on October 28, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley

The relaxation room at Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 on October 28, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley

The building has automated systems that shut off cooking gear in case firefighters have to leave in the middle of preparing a meal, and other technology powers the building, from automated systems that pipe information to display screens about active emergencies to the solar panels on the roof that help power the building itself. 

“This station is built not just for the needs of now, but for future expansion,” Adams said.

In the bay that holds fire vehicles, there’s space for four full-size apparatus. An overhead exhaust collection system can attach to a vehicle returning to the bay, collecting the exhaust from the heavy-duty vehicles, a step that minimizes the negative health impacts of exhaust fumes spilling into an enclosed space. 

A gear storage room at Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 on October 28, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley

Scott Adams demonstrates the exhaust removal system at Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 on October 28, 2020. Photo: Chas Hundley

Rooms attached to the bay have industrial cleaning equipment to take care of equipment worn by firefighters, storage areas, bathrooms, and more. 

All of it is a far cry from the footprint and capabilities of the current Buxton station at the corner of Fisher and Hannan Road. Adams said that the plan for that site is to eventually put it up for sale after going through a legal process to declare it as surplus, with the funds from the property sale going back into the district’s general fund. 

“The training tools will be an integral part of taking our firefighters to the next level now and into the future,” Adams said in an email.

“We’re really proud of this and what the community is doing here,” Adams said of the new station.

Hornshuh Creek Fire Station #14 is located at 49021 NW Sunset Highway, Banks, Oregon 97106.

This story has been updated to note that remote training has not yet taken place in the station’s training room, and to clarify staffing levels.

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Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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