Fire Chief updates council on new fire admin building
Rebecca Hattaway Staff Reporter
Work continues on the future site of the city’s fire administration offices and senior citizens center at the corner of Blue Starr and Sioux.
Earlier this week, Fire Chief Sean Douglas updated the city council on the fire administration’s part of the project.
Four department administrators, including the chief, deputy chief, fire marshal and training officer, have been housed at City Hall for the past three and half years, since moving from the old Will Rogers Library.
“We have been trying to find a place with more room, but money is always an issue,” Douglas said. “When the parks department and the senior center purchased the old church building (at Blue Starr and Sioux), they allocated us space and that has grown into what it is now.”
“What it is now” is 5,000 square feet that will accommodate offices, along with a large training area, conference room, break room and plenty of storage space.
“Currently, we can get one other person in my office and I routinely meet with more than one person at a time,” Douglas said. “When we have trainings, we have to meet wherever we can find the space. We’ve used NTC, Expo Center and the Community Center, but all those require scheduling to work around other groups that use the facilities.”
The training room will be able to accommodate 30 to 50 people.
“The new location will serve as something that is upgradable for the department and offers flexibility for future growth with the possibility of being able to add on to the north side of the building,” Douglas said.
A conceptual site plan has been designed by Chuck Monach, a retired general contractor, who has offered his time and talent to help with the project.
“He has invested a lot of time and effort with this and I’m glad he’s been able to help,” Douglas said.
Firefighters have also pitched in with the demolition and general labor.
“We’re in the phase of cleaning up the building and getting it stripped. In an older building like this it’s pretty important to know what you’re working with,” Douglas said. “We’ll probably do a lot of the framing and some concrete work ourselves, depending on our timing and work load.”
An architect is currently reviewing the plans and Douglas anticipates applying for a construction permit in the next week or two.
He said the goal is to move in by July 1.
Seventy thousand dollars has been allocated for the project this fiscal year.
“It will cost more than that,” Douglas said. “If we had plenty of money it would be easier to just contract everything out, but we’re investing a lot of time and effort to get a good savings.”
When construction costs are finalized, Douglas will go before the council to secure the rest of the funding.
“This is a priority for the city manager, to get us in an area that’s more functional and efficient,” Douglas said.
The site will serve a dual purpose as the city’s emergency operations center in the event of an emergency or disaster.
Douglas serves as the city’s emergency management director.
“We’ve done a lot of cooperative planning with Rogers County Emergency Management Director Scotty Stokes,” Douglas said. “Between their facility at the jail and this building, we will be able to handle any emergency that could arise. We’ve also got a couple of options for an underground facility at this site in the future.”