RED OAK – Construction has started on the expansion and remodeling project of the public safety building housing the police and fire departments.

“When we originally built the station we went from a small volunteer and combination department. We built it to be able to grow into a career staff,” Red Oak Fire Chief Eric Thompson said. “Over the past five years we have really outgrown a lot of things. Some of our operational changes have forced us to change some of the stuff in our building.

“One of the things that we are doing is our training room holds about 20 people comfortably right now. We want to expand that so we are able to have 50 or 60 people. There are a lot of things we do in that room other than just company training. We are also going to be using that room for community meetings such as homeowner association meetings,” he said.

The training room also serves as the emergency operation center, Thompson said, noting the room is already rewired with data cables and phone cables and an emergency power generator is connected.

A small closet that houses EMS equipment will be expanded into a secure, air-conditioned room with a refrigerator to store medication and drugs. A bunker gear storage room is also a part of the expansion as is a laundry room.

“We are making a bunker gear storage room that has special racks that are designed for the bunker gear. That way they are not just hanging on a coat hanger from the house, which puts more wear and tear on the gear than people realize,” Thompson said. “We are also putting in a new laundry room where we will have washing and drying capabilities for our bunker gear. Rather than having to ship everything out to a third party we are going to start to do everything in-house to save some money.”

Firefighters at the department have received training and are certified to clean bunker gear properly, he said, noting that a workshop to repair and maintain self-contained breathing apparatus and a storage area for lawn equipment will be added.

A large part of the project is the installation of a new roof.

“We have had issues with the roof since the initial installation. It has caused a lot of problems and we have had a lot of problems with water leaks. The current roof is an R-panel metal roof. They are going to leave that one there,” Thompson said. “They are going to install insulation on top of it and there will be a rubber roof on top of that, which will look just like an R-panel roof. When you are looking at it from the street you won’t be able to tell the difference. The life span on it is 30 years.”

Over in the jail, the construction project will remodel the cells to make them more secure. One of the cells will be converted into a shower room for inmates who stay a day or two. Once completed, the jail will have 12 beds from the eight it has now.

“In the old court area, we are going to remodel it and convert it to a small conference/interview room and a new detective area. Where (the detectives) are at is really cramped. We are going to have an evidence processing room where we can take evidence and finger prints,” Red Oak Police Chief Craig Rudolph said.

“We will double the size of our property evidence room with what they call CMU. Basically it will be brick and mortar on the interior of the walls – that way it will be secure with a solid ceiling,” he said. “It will give us a lot more capability because right now we are just crammed packed.”

In the foyer of the building, access will be created for an existing restroom so the public does not have to go through secure access to use the facility.

The total cost is $529,617 for the project, which is expected to be completed by January.

Brown Reynolds Watford Architect is the architectural firm, with Core Construction the general contractor.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.