RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas –
A $3.2 million construction project begun last month will add private sleeping quarters and other renovations to the Randolph Air Force Base Fire Station.
Construction is scheduled through October, and is expected to make life better for the 14 fire fighters who work there.
"Since this is a second home for our firefighters who spend 24-hour shifts on duty year-round, improving our living quarters and office areas is a morale-booster," said Eloy Uresti, Randolph AFB Fire Department assistant fire chief. "Personnel will have improved privacy, with actual walls separating them when they sleep. These rooms will be large enough to be comfortable with standard sleeping room furniture, with room to store items that currently have to be carried to and from work each shift. We are really excited about moving into our newly renovated home away from home."
A base engineer supervising the project added it also corrects safety issues in the firehouse.
"The offices and sleeping quarters will no longer open directly into the apparatus bays, preventing exhaust from entering," said Jim Cippolone, 902nd Civil Engineer Squadron project engineer.
Mr. Cippolone added that the 1,600 square-foot addition replaces the current setup of four-man bunk rooms with 15 private sleeping quarters for the fire fighters. The new construction will add a "clean room" so contaminated equipment and protective clothing can be safely disinfected and brought back in service.
Lighting in all areas of the station will be improved and two offices will be added, along with new doors, ceilings, light fixtures, tile floors, a remodeled kitchen, refurbished restrooms and a new roof. The single-phase project involves a multitude of workers from all construction trades -excavation, site work, foundation, masonry, steel fabrication, roofers, electricians, plumbers, drywall, and painters, plus flooring, ceiling, communications system, fire-suppression and alarm installers.
Mr. Cippolone said planning for the project started, conceptually, in 1998, but the execution plan changed several times and competed for completion with several other important projects until real planning began in 2008. In the meantime, several internal improvements accomplished since the facility was constructed in the mid- 1960s were done with self-help projects.
Because of the construction, Mr. Cippolone said base fire fighters are operating from the temporary trailers set up near the Fire Station. He stressed that neither 9-1-1 services, nor emergency response capabilities will be disrupted, but Mr. Uresti said the move will be "pretty interesting" for the fire fighters who are used to being in the same facility with their vehicles.
His boss agreed.
"While housed in the temporary trailers, when an emergency occurs, they will dash about 75 feet to the station," said Mark Ledford, Randolph AFB Fire Department Fire Chief. "When it's nice and sunny, it will be a simple jaunt. Add some wind and pouring rain and it will probably be a sprint for about 14 fire fighters."
Fire fighters began their move this week, and construction on their permanent facility is scheduled to last through October.