Facing the prospect of three of their fire engines approaching the end of their service life, and the need for faster response times, Benton County Fire District 4 plans to ask voters in August to approve a bond, which will add a third fire station and newer equipment.

Fire District Chief Bob Whealan says interestingly enough, most of the questions the District receives about the proposal are NOT about the cost, but about how it will improve response times. The bond would add about $7 a month to a $300,000 valued home for about 20 years, or less, depending upon rates and speed of payoff.

But Whealan says most people inside the very large District are concerned about time of response. Benton County Fire District 4 serves about 17,000 people over a 52 square mile area including West Richland and beyond towards Prosser and North. The agency handles about 1,400 calls a year, including EMS.

Whealan says the proposal would add a third fire station with an ambulance near Highway 224, near Van Giesen and Keene Road intersection. This station would greatly increase response times in the unincorporated areas they serve. It would also allow for better response in case of multiple simultaneous calls. And it would replace three fire engines that he says are close to reaching their end of operational life.

Whealan says call volumes, especially those for medical (EMS) requiring an ambulance, have increased 62.5 percent since 2010. This is largely due to the rapid growth in West Richland and surrounding areas.

More information can be obtained about the bond by clicking here.