March Update

No prospect is so frightening to an island community as the threat of fire. So when plans for The Gathering Place were being drawn up, it was obvious that a commercial building with full kitchen facilities and accommodations for 200 people would need extra special fire protection.

After 2 ½ years’ work to get final permits in hand, we were ready to begin construction. But, wait! Construction of The Gathering Place could not begin until the fire suppression system was in place and inspected by the Fire Marshall.

That system started with the pouring of a 24 foot tall water tank to hold 57,000 gallons water. The tank took five times more concrete than a typical building foundation. Next, a series of trenches was dug; and pipes were laid between the tank, the pumphouse, and the site of The Gathering Place in readiness for the sprinkler systems. The big red fire pump was placed on its concrete pedestal. The County required a water heater for the tank and the water heater and pumphouse require power, so additional electrical transformers were installed. Scheduling to bring all this together required complex planning and coordination especially since these pipes and 20 cement trucks and pumps and water heaters had to come across in coordination with the ferry’s schedule.

The finishing touches to the fire suppression system are in progress now. The electrician will complete wiring of the pumphouse next week; the pumphouse walls will be completed; trenches will be cut from the pumphouse to the transformer boxes and potable water tanks will be installed. The big red fire pump will be hooked up and THEN: 57,000 gallons of water will be pumped into the storage tanks – a 10-day process!

Not until then will the Fire Marshall inspect and give us permission to begin constructing The Gathering Place. Not one stick of material is allowed on the island until then! It’s critical that every step of this process is carefully vetted to insure we don’t have to go back and do something again.

We are so grateful to have Mark Sexton of Sexton Construction managing this process! Mark is as excited as the rest of the island to get to the “fun” part of this project and indicates that, before the end of spring, construction on The Gathering Place will have begun in earnest. Lummi Island waits with bated breath!

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