Fire Tower…What’s Up? (Friday)

Take a tour through the current fire training tower behind Legion Stadium and Greenfield Lake…it doesn’t take long to see why even some of our bravest are probably less than thrilled to be running around in there. The building was built in 1959. Ironically, it was ALSO delayed in opening (I’m waiting to hear the entire story here…sounds like these construction problems are repeating through history!). The site is used by both county and city fire fighters for training drills and to test the equipment.

The space and location are two of the main reasons why the facility is inadequate. Athletes are training nearby on Legion Stadium and residential homes flank the sides of the property. When the hoses are spraying intense streams of water everywhere…there is simply no good place for the water to go.

In a real fire, you’d likely have multiple companies (fire stations) responding. Ideally, a facility needs the space for “multiple company evolutions.” That just can’t happen at the current location…but the new site has ample space.

The trucks also need to be tested for “drafting” (how efficiently they draw water from a source). Not every truck is guaranteed a hydrant in all responses and they sometimes have to draw from a pond or pool. The drafting tank at the current location is just a tank of water they stick the hose in to test it. If you’ve ever seen some of the new “towers” (i.e. BIG new fire trucks) we have…that small of a tank is not big enough for the gear. The newer towers are then continuously drawing and dumping water into that tank and it creates too much turbulence for testing.

The tower itself is just simply out of shape. Drive by it…its obvious. Windows on the inside have shattered, the staircase needs to be sandblasted of rust, the floors have deep cracks, hornets nests on the ceiling…the list goes on. Chief David Hines (WFD) said, “With a new facility on the horizon we just haven’t done stuff like replaced the windows and all…there was no reason to spend money.” Why funnel money into the old site if it was going to be retired soon? That was the idea years ago…but they’re still using that site. I asked him if they thought they would eventually have to spend money on repairs but there is optimism that the recent progress made at the new site will make that unnecessary.

Having a site where fighter’s can train in a real fire is obviously…important. The current building cannot withstand the repetitive heat. Because of that, fire departments are having to do “live burns” at areas throughout the county. The new facility was designed as a one-stop-shop…all the training facilities you could need…all in one place.

The new facility really is state-of-the-art. I toured that area as well…

The efflorescence on the side of the walls is a white salty substance that is common in construction. Its evidence that moisture is seeping into the concrete. Given the repetitive high volume of water that will be sprayed on those buildings…and natural moisture in the air…the electrical wiring inside is greatly compromised without the water repellent polymer. Contractor D.S. Simmons has agreed to replace the electrical fixtures and hinges that have already rusted. That should be done in the next 3-4 weeks (on their dime…).

After CFCC had their ribbon cutting ceremony last year (2008), the State Department of Construction came out to inspect the building. David Hardin told me they saw the efflorescence right away. An inspector took a hose and sprayed the wall…the water absorbed into the concrete.

I have a copy of that inspection report. I also have a copy of the specifications for that building which CLEARLY state that the water repellant polymer was required. I called the architect James Stumbo (Stewart Cooper Newell Architects) to find out how that polymer didn’t make it into the concrete mix. He told me to talk to David Hardin at CFCC….

Then I called Jody Wall at Johnson Concrete. They made it…surely they would know?! I was told to talk to the contractor, D.S. Simmons…no further comment.

Then I called D.S. Simmons…who agreed to an interview…and then told me to go talk to their lawyer.

I asked if D.S. Simmons was suing the concrete manufacturer….I’m only told that D.S. Simmons *currently* does not have a lawsuit pending against them.

 What I DO know about D.S. Simmons is that they have been testing external sealants on the mock walls to find out if a polymer applied to the outside of the bricks would perform the same function. They looked at four products, the results for Protectosil were announced yesterday and are the most promising. Protectosil will actually perform BETTER than if the polymer had been included in the original concrete.

 There’s a catch. Protectosil will have to be re-applied to the outside of the buildings every 7 years and the inside of the buildings every 2-3 years. THEY are paying. They will also seal the mortar which is great for the longevity of the building.

 CFCC’s Board approved the initiative to seek liquidated damages for the money lost in tuition and fees because of the facilities suspended use. I did not know until yesterday that that money would be shared with the city and county…I’m sure they’ll be thrilled to hear!

 11 million dollars of tax payer dollars is certainly not chunk change. CFCC respects this and David Harden says that they are working hard to get the facility on line but its important to take the time to fix this error completely so that no further delays or accessory expenses may occur.

 At CFCC’s Board meeting yesterday they approved the use of Protectisil and work should begin soon. You can be sure I’ll be following the progress…







1 Comment

  1. I don’t know If I said it already but …Hey good stuff…keep up the good work! 🙂 I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis and for the most part, people lack substance but, I just wanted to make a quick comment to say I’m glad I found your blog. Thanks,)

    A definite great read….

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