Cape Girardeau officials plan for new fire station

Monday, February 28, 2005

Cape Girardeau firefighters hope to move into a new fire station on North Sprigg Street by late summer or early fall 2006, the result of a construction project funded by the city's fire sales tax.

A team of city staffers, including fire officials, has been reviewing architectural plans for the new 15,000-square-foot, two-level building that will be built on a 2-acre site on the west side of Sprigg Street north of the Blanchard Elementary School.

The city council last month hired Archimages Inc. of St. Louis to design the fire station at a maximum cost of just over $210,000.

The company has designed 24 fire stations in the St. Louis area. That expertise, city officials said, should pay off in a well-designed station.

Good planning is essential, city manager Doug Leslie said. "We know these opportunities are so rare to build a new facility such as a fire station from scratch that we want to make sure we don't miss something," he said.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the quarter-cent fire sales tax in June to fund various public safety projects. Topping the list is the new fire station.

Grading work on the site has yet to be done, although city crews have removed some of the scrub trees and bushes, said assistant fire chief Mark Hasheider.

A contractor will be hired to do the grading work in preparation for the building construction.

The city hopes to be ready to bid the building project in June or July. "We'll probably start construction in August or September," he said.

The new station, expected to cost about $2 million, will replace the old, cramped fire station No. 3 on Emerald Street.

It also will include a new communications center for the police and fire departments, which will allow dispatchers to be relocated and free up space in the crowded police station. In addition, the city's emergency operations center will be housed in the new building, Hasheider said.

The outside design hasn't been completed for the brick and concrete block structure, he said. But it is expected to have a red brick exterior to better fit in with the surrounding residential area, Hasheider said. It will have a sloped, metal roof.

The fire department will be housed on the main level, covering about 11,000 square feet. It will face Sprigg Street and feature three large, drive-through bays for firetrucks.

Included next to the bays will be a mezzanine level -- to take advantage of the high ceilings -- that will house an archive center where police and fire department records can be stored.

"The records we have to keep are immense and require a lot of space," Leslie said. "This will provide an ideal opportunity to do that."

There will be living quarters including a kitchen on the same level so that firefighters can easily get to the trucks to respond to fires. That way firefighters won't have to slide down a fire pole, he said.

While legendary, fire poles are no longer practical, he said. It makes more sense to house firefighters on the same level as the fire trucks, Hasheider said.

The entrance to the station will include a secure vestibule. Since the terrorist attacks on the East Coast in 2001, fire officials across the nation have looked to step up security at fire stations, he said.

The entranceway currently planned would include two sets of doors that could be electronically locked in an emergency, Hasheider said.

A patio is planned to be built on the back of the fire station for the enjoyment of the firefighters, he said.

The lower level, which will have an entrance from the rear of the building to take advantage of the sloping ground, will cover about 4,000 square feet. It will house the communications center with room for at least four dispatchers and the emergency operations center.

It will have a small kitchen and dining area for the dispatchers who need to stay close to the communications equipment at all times, Hasheider said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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