SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. – Representatives from Fairchild Air Force Base, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and the Spokane County Board of Commissioners celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony, April 13, for the Spokane Regional Indoor Small Arms Range.
This event is the result of a 9-year effort to forge a partnership between the three entities. The agreement that led to construction of this facility was the first of its kind between the Air Force and a local government to jointly utilize facilities to benefit a military installation and a local government. The first public-to-public partnership of its kind for the Air Force, the goal of this partnership is to best utilize limited resources to provide a capability that Spokane County and the Air Force need to ensure mission readiness. It eliminates the need to build duplicate facilities for each entity, and will save taxpayers money.
Located on county property in the vicinity of Craig Road and the Medical Lake Highway just minutes from the front gates of Fairchild AFB, the indoor small arms range will be the first facility of its kind. This facility is providing a venue primarily for Fairchild AFB and Sheriff’s Office Instructors to train Airmen and Deputies simultaneously.
This indoor firing range will consist of 21 lanes, 50 meters in length, and will include classrooms, offices, and an armory on site. The flagship facility will provide features that will enhance all service branch training capabilities and skill sets. The range will be housed fully indoors with adjustable lighting to enable daylight, dusk or nighttime conditions. It can simulate multiple environments and will accommodate vehicles inside the facility to further enhance training. The Spokane Regional Indoor Small Arms Range will be fully owned by Spokane County with Fairchild AFB and the Sheriff’s Office being the primary tenants.
The Air Force expects that this facility will serve as a model for other bases.
During the ceremony, representatives from each of the partnering organizations made brief comments about the historic nature of this partnership before turning the first shovel of dirt to commemorate the beginning of the construction process.
Chair of the Spokane County Board of Commissioners, Mary Kuney, stated, “This is an exciting day for our community. Just think, in just eighteen short months we will be standing at the entrance to this truly one-of-a-kind facility. This project was many years in the making. It was made possible because all the partners involved were committed to continually working together to keep this project moving forward.”
“This is a big day for Fairchild Air Force Base and Spokane County. This is the perfect example we use for seeking out opportunities to work with our local communities. We are so proud of the initiative that was put forward on this project. Moving forward, there will be a lot of communities that will look at Fairchild Air Force Base, and this project specifically, as an example of how to do these types of projects right,” said Col. Cassius T. Bentley, 92d Air Refueling Wing commander.
"This facility has been ten years in the making, and the fact that we are here today really comes down to the fact that we were able to develop these valuable relationships and partnerships. The only thing that makes a community work is relationships and partnerships. This project will be one of those things that you can point to and show that our community can accomplish almost anything. Training is what leads to professionalism and having the confidence to do your job right. For law enforcement, this is the most important thing we do for our staff, so they can have the tools necessary to do a difficult job under difficult circumstances. Thank you to the Board of County Commissioners, all the staff and leadership at Fairchild Airforce base, and all the staff at the Spokane County Sheriff’s office for making this dream a reality,” said Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.
Spokane Valley Police Department Chief David Ellis stated, “The City of Spokane Valley has a long and successful history of contracting for law enforcement services with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, since incorporation almost 20 years ago. As part of that, the Spokane Valley Police Department is the only contract city in the state of Washington to be independently accredited through the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. A big component of the accreditation process involves the requirement for high training standards. We are excited about the capabilities and opportunities that this new facility will provide for the men and women of the Spokane Valley Police Department, and as a result, public safety in the City of Spokane Valley.”
Spokane County Commissioner Al French added, “This is momentous day for Spokane County. When we started conversations about this project ten years ago, the laws and procedures on the books wouldn’t even allow a facility like to be considered. With the help of our federal delegation, we were able to change the laws necessary to make this possible. Projects like this are what we do in Spokane County. When things get tough, we don’t look for the exit, we find solutions. Congratulations to everybody involved with this historic partnership.”
Bobby Cummings, Principal for Clark Nexsen, the Design Architect in charge of the project added, “In the many years we’ve been doing work for the Department of Defense and law enforcement agencies throughout the United States, we’ve never had the privilege of working on a project quite like this. The successful partnership that was forged in the past few years between Fairchild, the County, and the Sheriff’s office is a testament to the commitment of the people who worked on it. We are looking forward to turning dirt and look forward to the ribbon cutting in about eighteen months.”
Kevin Twohig, Chair of the Forward Fairchild Committee concluded, “We work closely with the airmen and base leadership to assure the growth and vitality of the Inland Northwest, to achieve strategic goals, and to ensure the success of the key missions of the US Air Force in our area. As usual our community and our base have overachieved, becoming the first public/public partnership to create a facility in the entire Air Force. We have a lot to be proud of and this facility will provide a tremendous improvement in the training of both our airmen and the law enforcement community.”