- About Us
Kirkland to purchase generators for potential emergency shelters
Kirkland city officials are working toward securing two portable generators for two places that could be used as shelters during emergencies.
The partnership between the city and the two sites - Northwest University and Saint John Vianney Church - in Kirkland is part of a grant project that will provide two portable emergency power generators to the facilities, thus acting as potential community centers and gathering points for residents in the event of a disaster.
“Purchasing these two transfer switches, along with two portable generators, will give the city the flexibility to activate additional shelters and recovery sites in the most appropriate locations,” a Sept. 3 city staff memo said. “With portable generators, after a disaster the city can more effectively support the health and safety of our citizens.”
The Kirkland Police and Fire departments received the Community Oriented Policing Services grant in May 2010. Of that, the emergency management portion was awarded $91,000 toward the generators and $52,100 toward transfer switches.
“The electrical bid has been awarded,” Kirkland Fire Department Deputy Chief Jack Henderson said. “Now we’re just waiting for the company to get the parts and coordinate with the facilities to put them in.”
The generators were about $85,860 - within price range. Pointer Electric submitted the only bid for the transfer switch project for a total of $53,696 - $1,596 more than the amount allotted.
The remaining balance will be funded from the 2013-14 emergency preparedness budget.
“The City Council approved North Kirkland Community Center and this would increase two facilities we have a partnership with in Kirkland,” said Kirkland Fire Department Deputy Chief Helen Ahrens-Byington. “We’re trying to spread out different locations in the community because you don’t quite know where [a shelter] will be needed.”
However, Ahrens-Byington said places aren’t publicly designated as emergency shelters because no one ever knows where a disaster could strike.
“We’re never quite sure where the need will be or where the damage will be so you can’t really designate a site for a shelter before the incident itself,” Ahrens-Byington said. “We want to get places checked off and registered before the disaster happens.”
Instead, Henderson suggests these places would act as information centers for scenarios such as a big power outage, and would only be opened as emergency shelters if Red Cross deems them so.
“[Shelters] have to meet the Red Cross requirements because they take a great deal of staffing,” Henderson said. “You don’t just open the doors, it has to be staffed and monitored.”
Henderson added that many people in the Parks Department are trained to be shelter workers.
Red Cross spokeswoman Rachel Ramey said the organization doesn’t disclose the locations of designated emergency shelters unless there’s an emergency so that they can maintain their clients’ privacy.
Ramey further explained that if there was an apartment fire and many were displaced, those tenants would have access to a specific shelter where they could go, but that information wouldn’t be made public.
However, she said if a huge earthquake were to take place, that type of information would likely be distributed to the media and other public avenues for information.
Ramey said she was unable to disclose how many emergency shelters were designated in Kirkland but said there were “several” as well as many throughout Western Washington in case of such a disaster.
Ahrens-Byington said although these places could act as community resources, the expectation is people are ready and prepared for long-term power outages, typically for three days.
Some tips for preparedness include: Make a plan, build a kit and help each other.
For information on how to prepare for a disaster, visit makeitthrough.org.