Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Downtown Fire Station #1 opens doors

The crowd Monday at the dedication of Idaho Falls' new downtown fire station.
Monday was a big day for the Idaho Falls Fire Department and the city itself, as the new $4.3 million Downtown Fire Station #1 opened its doors at 343 E Street.

“The address, 343, has a significant meaning to us as it signifies the number of firefighters who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. We are here today to dedicate this station in their honor,” said Fire Chief Dave Hanneman, in remarks that preceded the department’s Color Guard and Pipes and Drums.

The building is the long-overdue replacement for Station #1, which had been on the Shoup Avenue side of City Hall since 1930, when Herbert Hoover was president. Insufficient room for modern equipment, claustrophobic conditions, and a crack in the floor were identified for decades as problems that could not be fixed, yet it wasn’t until 2014 that the City Council voted to proceed with a new station.

Planning for the new station began in April 2015, and ground was broken on Jan. 8, 2016. The General Contractor for the new 24,000 square foot facility was Morgan Construction, with design provided by CRSA Architecture. The total cost of the building was $4.1 million, which came in under the $4.3 million guaranteed price given by Morgan Construction.

For the first time in 35 years, the Fire Prevention Bureau and ladder truck are at the same location as the administrative staff.  At full capacity, the new station will also be living quarters for 11 firefighters.  The new station is a fully ADA compliant building with elevators. The administrative staff occupy the first floor, along with a training room that also functions as a City Coordination Center (CCC). The CCC seats 50 people and can be reserved by other city departments and community members.

There are two sets of double bays. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) turnout room, located near the bays, is a state-of-the-art area with a ventilation system allowing fumes and contaminants to vent outside of the building, protecting firefighters and the facility.  
Upstairs is the living quarters for firefighters, captains and battalion chiefs. Firefighters are on shift 48 hours at a time, with up to 11 crew members, so the living quarters function similar to a house.  There are dorm rooms, showers, a dining room, kitchen, day room, training room with computers, and an exercise room. Firefighters are required to exercise for at least one hour per day to stay conditioned.

The brains of the building is an alert system with interconnectivity to dispatch. “During an emergency, the alert system will progressively wake pertinent personnel by turning on lights, followed by sound and voice, thereby reducing their heart rates upon notification,” Hanneman said. When the alert system goes off, EMS crews have less than 1 minute to get out on the call from anywhere in the building. Fire calls are less than 1 minute 20 seconds.

The central response area with monitors and radios is located near the pole leading down to the bays, giving crews up-to-date information before they get in the trucks and go on the call.

Monitors throughout the building also feed live call data to the firefighters, constantly keeping them informed of emergencies. The monitors in the fire prevention offices on the first floor display building plans, allowing staff to coordinate and discuss planning documents.