It’s only a matter of time before a company is chosen to build the city’s new fire station.
After City Council members approved Tuesday to build a station at 401 N. Glenview Drive, the next step will be to put the project up for bid and hire a construction firm. The station will include an Emergency Operation Center, a training facility and a safe environment among many other features that make it an upgrade from the old station.
Kevin Baity, city manager, said project bids will open in late November, which will be awarded to a company at the Dec. 11 council meeting.
Fire chief John Michalesko said the facility on West Walnut and Oakland Avenue was built in the 1960s and is structurally unsafe for earthquakes.
“In this case, the building has a number of issues both structural or mechanical that are going to be cost prohibitive when it comes to upgrading and repairing,” Michalesko said.
He said the old building has unreinforced masonry walls as well as plumbing and electric systems that do not meet today’s standards.
Michalesko said once the new station is open, the old station will close and the Emergency Operation Center will move from the Civic Center to the new facility.
The emergency management coordinator, who is also the training officer, will move with the Emergency Operation Center to the new fire station so training can take place inside of the new facility.
Baity said in an email the fire station will accommodate large equipment and have a lower maintenance requirement.
The design process focused on energy efficiency and reduced maintenance, he said. Apparatus bays will also include a source capture system for diesel emissions, which provides a cleaner and safer environment for employees, he said in the email. The station will be equipped with a whole house auxiliary generator, too. The existing facility’s generator can only power a limited number of circuits.
However, Baity said the location is just as important as the upgrades.
“With the residential and commercial growth of the city westward, it is necessary to move the station westward as well to maintain adequate service response times and coverage,” Baity said.
He said an assessment determined the approximate general area from which a station could provide the best access and response times, he said.
Outside of upgrades and location, Councilman Lance Jack said in Tuesday’s council meeting he was concerned with the facility’s energy efficiency. He said geothermal technology should be be an option, which could save more money over time.
“We do have to look at all the costs and not be scared away by some of the greater up-front costs if we can save money down the road,” Jack said.
Baity said although many energy efficient options are available, the initial building plan is complete so geothermal technology and solar energy cannot be installed for a few years.
There also isn’t enough south-facing roof space for solar panel installation, Baity said, but panels could possibly be set up on space next to the station. He said only time will tell if geothermal or solar panels can be used.
No matter what happens with the energy, Michalesko said there are many firefighters who look forward to a change of scenery and a new station.
“They’re most definitely anxious to see it happen, and we’ve talked about it for a long time,” Michalesko said. “We’ve got a lot of people on the department who have been here for an excess of 10 or 15 years, and it’s not every day that a new fire station comes along in your career.”