Plans are taking shape for the City of Midlothian’s new fire station and training facilities. Estimates put the station in operation by February 2020 and the training facility by the end of the year.
The funds for these two projects come from the $9.1 million bond passed by voters in November.
The new station will replace the aging fire station No. 1, located on North Eight Street, which has served the community for more than 55 years. The old station will be relocated to property west of Main Street and U.S. Highway 287. The land purchase is expected to close by the third week in April.
Brinkley Sargent Wiginton was hired by the city to serve as the architect on the fire station project. The firm has experience in municipal projects that include areas of public administration, public safety, courts, training complexes, and fire stations.
Midlothian Fire Chief Dale McCaskill expressed how the resource would help the department grow with the community by serving residents well into the future. He notes firefighters won’t have to contend with traffic congestion or limited capabilities of an aging structure.
“We had our first meeting with Brinkley Sargent Wiginton last week," McCaskill elaborated. "We were able to come up with a general idea of how large the building is going to be. Right now it sits at about 17,000 square feet."
The building will include a sleeping area for up to 12 firefighters, a training room that would house up to 30 or 40 people, an oversized lobby that would allow firefighters to move the Model-T (fire engine) to that facility.
McCaskill stated the Model-T fire engine is inside of the department’s administration building. By moving the vehicle, it allows space to be reclaimed and provide greater access for the public to the offices of the fire chief, fire marshal, and the department’s administrative assistant. Those offices are currently located on the second floor of the building.
The design has not been finalized as to whether the station would have three or four bays, but it will have more of a traditional look. This look will feature squarer lines with brick as opposed to modern, sharper architectural lines.
The department is going to use the individual bunkroom concept, which will allow firefighters their own space and more privacy. Each room will have a speaker and illumination light to alert personnel of incoming emergency calls.
McCaskill noted the facility would incorporate function and technology into its design.
“Through the station, there will be video boards that illustrate the address and the type of call,” McCaskill explained.
McCaskill added there would be scrolling message bars listing the type of call and address along with a shot clock in the garage bay. This clock will let crews know how many seconds have passed since the call was toned out.
McCaskill explained the city would be hiring a construction manager at risk to oversee all facets of the project. With a construction manager at risk, it gives the city more flexibility in hiring subcontractors on the project. It also provides for better quality control.
The remaining $1 million will be used to construct the department’s first training facility. The four-story complex will be on five acres adjacent to Water Treatment Plan 2 on Auger Road.
“We have never had a place to go that would allow us to train in a safe environment that provided us with multiple scenarios based training opportunities," McCaskill elaborated. "So what I mean by that is that we have either acquired structures. For instance, MISD demolished three structures to build their new athletic complex and elementary school. They allowed us to go in and train in them.”
Opportunities to use actual structures are few and far between. There have been times the department has been able to use other cities facilities. The drawback with that is it requires a lot of coordination and takes resources out of the city.
To construct this facility, the department is looking at companies that manufacture the building components off-site. These components are then delivered to the location and assembled by construction crews. The building they are looking to construct would allow live burning to take place in three or four rooms areas rescue scenarios.
“As it stands right now the building should be a four-story tower. That will allow us to do high angle rescue training. The tower will allow us to simulate standpipe connections that we might see in other high rises,” McCaskill said. “We will have a three-story residential portion that is attached to that tower. Each floor will simulate a different layout. The first floor will be a residential home, the second floor is more of an apartment layout, and the third floor is more of a commercial type hotel layout. So each floor would give us a different look and ability to train.”
The ground floor of training tower will have an area where a vehicle can be set on fire to simulate a garage fire. The structure will have pitched roofs that will allow firefighters to train with ladders or with the ladder truck.
Once the layout of the property is completed, and a vendor is decided it a 12-week order, then another 12 weeks is anticipated to build the structure.