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Business Profile

City of Airway Heights

Stuff happens. We all know it, but sometimes we experience it very acutely: as individuals, as families, or as a whole community. These are the moments when you want the right people responding.

In the city of Airway Heights — the west plains home of Fairchild Air Force Base, the Spokane International Airport and over 9,400 residents — you want Fire Chief Mitch Metzger and his majority-volunteer crew to be those people. That was the case during the water crisis the community experienced in spring 2017.

When the presence of a contaminant previously used by the Air Force was found in the community’s tap water, the city’s incident response training went into action. Not that Chief Metzger wants to take much credit personally.

"In a moment like that, it’s about teamwork and community,” Chief Metzger says. “As the City of Airway Heights, as we go through our incident response process first and foremost on our minds is what our citizens need: the information that they have a right to know about the problem, and then the resources they need to get through it. And then we work with all kinds of partners from inside and outside the area to provide those resources.”

In addition to mitigating the problem itself to keep commerce and government running, those 9400 citizens each needed 2 gallons per day of clean drinking water, and the fire department took on that responsibility. Distributing nearly 20,000 gallons of water per day for over three weeks is no small task, and water started coming in from cities around the region, from Burlington to Boise. The firefighters were tasked with bringing that water directly to the community: not through hoses as they usually do, but through jugs and bottles, allowing citizens to personally connect with the volunteer firefighters that keep them safe.

In public health crises, weather events, wildfires, and other difficult circumstances, the city of Airway Heights has shown themselves to be resilient, both as a government entity and as a community.

"Without volunteers, we simply could not do what we do,” Chief Metzger says. “Many of our firefighters and EMTs are building experience toward becoming career professionals, but some are just here because that's how they can support their community. In both cases, this crew cares deeply about helping our citizens in emergency situations.”

INB is proud to support the city of Airway Heights, even in the small things: from literally counting every penny during the Fire Department’s change drives, to providing a conference room at the INB branch for meetings of all kinds.

“It really is that hometown bank experience,” Metzger says. “When we walk in they know our names and we know theirs. Plus, there’s always hot coffee over there, so that helps.”

In the big things and the small things, partnering with a municipalities like Airway Heights is part of INB’s greater mission to support the region and its people.