The city began work on the pre-design phase of the new fire station Tuesday with an Anchorage-based architecture firm.
As part of this pre-design process, the city will be evaluating site requests for proposals at the end of October, said City Manager Mike Tvenge.
Brian Meissner, a principal architect with ECI Alaska presented his initial thoughts on the current building and what would be needed in a new fire station.
The firm has previously worked on six buildings in Kodiak including the Koniag office building, the Near Island research center, and the Fish and Game building, Meissner said.
Following a walk-through of the current fire station, the architect said structural concerns, such as cracks in the building’s ceiling, are not the only issues.
“I have a bigger concern about the safety of that building,” he said, specifically about the separation between zones in the fire station to limit exposure from lingering contaminants on returning firefighting vehicles, he said.
Despite such issues, he said he was impressed with the quality and broad range of services the city was able to provide to Kodiak residents.
“It is amazing that (the fire station staff) can keep that building as clean as they do and that they operate the way that they do out of there. I think that this is the most highly capable fire staff that I’ve encountered … you’re very fortunate to have people that committed to work in that building,” he said.
Meissner said he has worked on three buildings before in the pre-design phase.
He will “develop the space list and general concept design to test the new station to make it work and make sure that it aligns with budget expectations,” Meissner said.
In addition, Meissner also will help evaluate sites in collaboration with a steering committee. The locations will be scored by what the response time would be from each site option, and if there is suitable space for drive-through bays, which are “highly desirable in a modern fire station,” to accommodate the larger size of modern fire trucks, Meissner said.
“You can walk into an older fire station and in some cases find 14 and a half, 15-foot bays,” Meissner said. “But when you get a 13-foot truck in (the station) next to a couple of 10-foot engines, you can’t open the doors without slamming them. The bigger issue is that you can’t stage equipment between the vehicles and load them.”
Meissner also said the new fire station should have a special training room that will act as an emergency operations room. The building should be built to withstand major natural disasters like earthquakes.
The deadline for site request for proposals was Wednesday and city staff will look at the proposals and potential cost of the new fire station in the coming weeks, the city manager said.
In November, the finance director will help come up with funding resources for the project, and the city will decide how to move forward, Tvenge said.
The need for a new station was noted by Fire Chief James Mullican at a regular work session last year. He presented a report that included details of the damage caused by the magnitude 7.9 earthquake felt in Kodiak on Jan. 23, 2018.