July 22, 2015

Fire Station No. 44 on the Move

By Sue Pease
– The Daily News –

With plans for the widening of Walnut Grove Road in the works, some area businesses will have to make room for wider streets.

One such operation is Fire Station No. 44 at Walnut Grove and Humphreys Boulevard, which will be moved further north.

“(The new station) replaces the fire station at Baptist Hospital, which is going to be wiped out by the widening of Walnut Grove,” said Jim Evans, president of architectural firm Nathan, Evans, Taylor, Coleman & Foster.

The firm is accepting construction bids for the project through Feb. 1.

The replacement fire station will be 15,000 square feet in size, and located on Humphreys, north of Walnut Grove, where the street comes to a dead end.

Sidney Minton, the fire department’s chief of apparatus maintenance, said it is unclear if the current station will be torn down when the replacement station comes online, but when the road is widened, the street grade will make it difficult for pumper trucks to exit the current station.

“The current station No. 44 was built in the 1970’s, Minton said. It operates three shifts each with four employees.

While bids have not been returned yet, cost estimates on the new station are between $1.5 and $1.7 million, Minton said.

The fire department is using a prototype design, which can be repeated on future fire stations, saving the department money.

The design is already in use on stations 53 and 55 in the Hickory Hill area.

“The fire department is taking a new attitude under director (Chester) Anderson that we want to plan for the future. Everything we are doing is looking at long-range planning for the city … so we aren’t building something and them have to move it or tear it down or change it in the future,” Minton said.

While the older station has two bays, the new station will include three bays, increasing flexibility.

It will carry three shifts of six employees and operate a pumper and an ambulance.

The current station operates only a single pumper truck.

The local covenants in the Humphreys Boulevard area dictate strict guidelines, Evans said, so the design will include similar color, irrigation and landscaping as Humphreys Center.

Once contractors return bids, the city has 120 days to approve the bid. Construction should take about 12 months.

The fire department currently has 52 operating stations, Minton said.