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Fire station reopens after remodel

Midwest City’s Fire Station No. 1 reopened Dec. 15 following a remodel project. Photo by Jeff Harrison

By Jeff Harrison
Midwest City Beacon

Midwest City’s Fire Station No. 1 is back up and running.

Construction crews recently completed a project to remodel the fire station building, 8201 E. Reno Ave., which also houses fire department administration and staff offices.

The project included updates to the plumbing, electrical, HVAC, restrooms, and fire station and office areas. It also required significant work to remove asbestos from walls and insulation on pipes.
The fire station remodel was funded through a 2018 general obligation bond issue. It is one of the final projects on the list.

Work on the fire station was completed earlier this fall. Administration and staff returned to the office in October. The station was fully operational again on Dec. 15 when fire crews returned.
During construction, firefighters and staff were temporarily relocated. The headquarters were moved to a vacant building near the Reed Conference Center. Firefighters were reassigned to Fire Station No. 6, 8750 SE 15th St.

The fire station opened in 1976 and has had only minor improvements over the years. The project was originally intended to update the aging mechanical systems and the office and living quarters.

The scope of the project was modified largely due to an unexpected amount of asbestos in the building. Fire Chief Bert Norton said they originally believed the asbestos was limited to insulation, but they later learned it was in the sheetrock and plaster.

“Once we realized and identified that, we tried to see moneywise what we could do on the remodel,” said Norton.

Norton said they prioritized eliminating environmental issues, and cutback on the cosmetic aspects of the remodel.

“I felt it was important to get these guys an asbestos-free facility,” he said. “We were fortunate to be able to get a clean environmental assessment of the building.”

Many of the interior walls were rebuilt in the same configuration.

“The asbestos removal was X number of dollars, but we had to pay to put everything back,” he said.

Another part of the project was upgrades to the plumbing and construction of new restrooms that are ADA compliant.

“When the station was built in the 70s, ADA was not a requirement, so our bathrooms did not meet those standards,” he said.

New restrooms were built on the first floor of the station that meet ADA requirements. Space on the first floor was reconfigured to allow for the larger restrooms, as well as a small conference room.

The fire prevention office was also modified slightly to allow for a large open area as well as smaller office space. The staff was previously divided into different offices but now all work in the same one.

The second floor living quarters were slightly modified.

Another large part of the project was replacing the HVAC system. That included a new boiler that is smaller and more energy efficient. The new equipment is controlled automatically.

Costs for the project increased due to the asbestos removal and additional equipment that was replaced.

The city originally estimated the project would cost about $600,000. In June 2021, the city awarded a construction contract to W.L. McNatt & Company for $898,500. The cost has since increased by $85,486 to $983,986. Norton said they are still working out some issues.

Norton said they are limited in how much the cost of the project can change. A project that costs over $1 million can only change up to 10%. If the project is less than $1 million, the cost can change up to 15%.

“If goes over that, you have to stop and rebid the whole project again,” Norton said.

Norton said the public may not see much of a change in the building but believes the remodel project has created a better and safer workspace for employees and visitors.

“There is not much of a change, but we notice differences,” he said. “We notice the air is finally balanced across the rooms, the lighting is better, and we have more restrooms.”

While the Station No. 1 project is wrapping up, another one is heating up. The city is building a new police and fire training facility near SE 15th St. and Jim White Dr., behind Station 6 and the Public Works building.

The facility will include classroom space, a conference room, storage area, small breakroom, and restrooms with showers. It will also have a burn building/tactical facility that will be constructed from 13 shipping containers.

Parts of the building will be designed like a motel and others like a garden style apartment. The facility can be used by firefighters for live burn drills and by police officers for tactical exercises.

“We’re excited about this. It’s new to us and new to the area. We’re going to be able to work with some of our mutual aid partners to come over and do training,” Norton said.

Crews finished grading the site and poured footings for the building. A new water line has been added that connects the building to a line near SE 15th St. The water line will be looped to provide adequate water pressure.

The police and fire training facility project is expected to be completed by August.

Shiloh Enterprises is the general contractor.

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