New Snoqualmie Pass Fire Station Opens on Federal Land Cantwell Helped Secure

27,000 vehicles travel through Pass each day; new station will improve safety and enable better response times

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) applauded the opening of a new fire station on federal land she helped secure at Snoqualmie Pass. Station 291 will help meet the growing emergency response needs of Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue on one of the busiest mountain highways in the country. The all-volunteer Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue force will operate out of the new facility.

In January 2009, Cantwell championed the passage of legislation in the Senate that designated an acre and a half of United States Forest Service (USFS) land for the new station. Cantwell’s measure was based on months of working with stakeholders in the community to identify the USFS land, which is located near an I-90 on-ramp, to best address safety and emergency response time while helping preserve the environment.

“I was proud to have championed the Snoqualmie Pass Land Conveyance Act so that the necessary land was available to build this urgently needed state-of-the-art facility,” said Cantwell. “For too long, Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue has served one of the most traveled mountain passes in the nation out of a 1920s era Forest Service maintenance shed that was never intended to house a fire station. This new station will enable faster response times, greater emergency preparedness, and allow the volunteer fire fighters to more safely and efficiently respond to emergencies.”

Snoqualmie Pass Fire Department serves a portion of King and Kittitas counties on both sides of the Cascade Mountains, a community of 350 full-time residents that peaks to 1,500 during the ski season. Snoqualmie Pass is the most heavily traveled east-west highway crossing in Washington state, with an average of 27,000 vehicles passing through each day. Nearly 60,000 vehicles travel through the fire district during peak times, making it one of the busiest mountain highways in the country. With traffic on the rise and the need for emergency services in the area growing, the Fire District was in desperate need of a true fire station. Station 291 replaces the old fire ‘station,’ which was built in the 1920s as a Department of Transportation Maintenance shed.

In 2009, when the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) declared a major disaster due to storms that tore through parts of Washington state, Snoqualmie Pass Fire and Rescue responded quickly, illustrating just how instrumental the Fire Department is in the community. In recent years, this area has been the scene of major winter snowstorms, multi-vehicle accidents, and even avalanches. The Fire District is often the first responder to incidents in the area, which is prone to rock slides and avalanches and it is not uncommon for this community to be isolated for hours or even days at a time.