The City of Winfield and Agora Architecture have nearly completed design work on the fire/EMS portion of the planned safety center, according to a press release Wednesday from City Manager Taggart Wall.
The $4 million project, which will be paid for through a sales tax approved by Winfield voters in June 2019, is expected to go to bid in summer or fall 2020. Construction is expected to start in winter 2020. The project, which is being designed in phases, will also include a new police department facility.
The design includes six large apparatus bays, a training tower, decontamination areas for firefighter and paramedic gear and improved site drainage. It will be constructed using steel and stone, and will incorporate the current fire station, which was built in 1886 and thought to be one of the oldest fire stations west of the Mississippi River still in active use.
The current station will be converted to office and living spaces, with a secure customer entrance on the south end of the building.
“The city’s design focus for the station has been toward functionality and long-term durability, while not sacrificing the historical feel of downtown,” city engineer Patrick Steward said.
Functionality includes designing the new apparatus bays so they can fit the larger vehicles used in today’s fire departments. The city currently must purchase specially made vehicles that will fit through the bay openings designed in 1886.
The addition of a training tower has both function and aesthetic value, according to Winfield fire/EMS chief Vince Warren. The four-story tower will flow water internally and allow rappelling, laying hose line, small space rescue, latter truck training and other rescue training scenarios.
“The tower obviously has visual appeal to represent our Winfield history,” Warren said. “It also significantly increases on-site training. Financially speaking, the tower gives the city the potential opportunity to lower our ISO (Insurance Service Office) rating. That benefits everyone in the city who must purchase fire insurance. The lower the rating, the lower insurance costs.”
The new fire station will have a dedicated decontamination, or “dirty,” space, designed to keep hazardous carcinogens personnel might encounter on calls from spreading to “clean” areas of the facility. This design will protect firefighters and paramedics, as well as any visitors.
“This is a standard in station design these days,” Warren said.
Concerns about the site being located on a main drainage pathway have been addressed using a proposed bio-swale that will run the length of the block. The bio-swale is designed to encourage surface drainage, naturally treat stormwater before it reaches the storm system and slow down the flow of the water.
“Unlike concrete, which delivers all of the rainwater at once, bio-swales can slow water down in most rain events,” Steward said.
Based on the current planning timeline, Steward said he expects the city to bid this phase of the project this summer.