Nov. 16—Gilbert Fire Station No. 4 opened 24 years ago on Ray Road near Lindsay Road and is showing its age, according to Fire Chief Rob Duggan.
At 5,262 square feet with two and a half apparatus bays and four bedrooms, he told Town Council last week, it's too small to adequately meet the town's needs as it reaches build out in less than a decade.
"This was built in 1999, this was a transition period for us," he said. "This station was built when Gilbert was small. It didn't have an eye to build out. It's less than half of what's needed."
The town's population then was less than half of the current 282,000 headcount.
Council members will do a deep dive on the costs and funding source at a Dec. 11 workshop.
The station currently "severely limits the deployment of our apparatus," Duggan said.
"When we did our accreditation process four years ago, we identified Station 4 the ideal location for a Hazmat station because that gave us the best response times throughout the entire town," he said.
It "also indicated this is a prime location to house one of our transportation ambulances. This is all based on the data and projections on response times."
Duggan said the station also lacked enough bedrooms to support additional staff.
The station was built without a fitness facility so one of bays is being used for a gym and a third smaller bay with no driveway is used to store the firefighters' turnout gear.
"This station was again built at a time when they didn't have all the safety equipment," Duggan noted. "And we have to keep the turnout as far as possible from the truck because of exposure to diesel exhaust, which we know is a problem for our crew."
Duggan said the station needs to be between 12,000 and 13,000 square feet, have three to four apparatus bays and 10 bedrooms.
But before any funds are expended, Duggan said a team will first come in to see if the current station can be expanded.
"I personally don't believe that is likely," he said. "I think we are going to have to tear it down and rebuild, something like you would seat at Station 7, off of Cooper and Warner, which is a two-story station, three bays and 10 bedrooms, large space."
Other projects Duggan presented included:
—A fire fleet building, a new free standing building with three bays.
The South Area Service Center, near Greenfield and Queen Creek roads, lacks space for the fire fleet's large apparatus and can be repurposed when the new building is constructed.
—Fire Administration remodel of 5,000 square feet
—Renovations of Station No. 1 and No. 3 by converting locker rooms into individual bathrooms.
—Renovation and remodel of Station No. 11, adding two more bedrooms, converting locker rooms into individual bathrooms and dedicated fitness room.
—Renovations of Stations No. 2, No. 8, No. 6 and No. 5 in that order. The work includes adding two bedrooms to each station, converting locker rooms into individual bathrooms and adding infrastructure to support additional apparatus.
Without the additional bedrooms, deployment decisions will be based on bedroom space and not where data says to deploy personnel, Duggan said.
Police Chief Michael Soelberg also raised some other projects besides a crime lab.
He said in the public safety building, "everything in that complex that has not been touched already needs to be touched," he said. "We need more space. Locker rooms are a huge issue especially down south."
The San Tan Police substation near Greenfield and Queen Creek roads also needs an extra 45,000 square feet for amenities such as lockers, a wellness area and a briefing room, according to Soelberg. The station currently is 21,352 square feet.
The chief also said that a 10,000-square-foot community office or mini station is needed in the Heritage District for the police bike patrol.
Currently there is one team monitoring downtown daily but he said build-out may require three bike teams patrolling daily.
Soelberg reminded council that the advocacy center had doubled its size since he presented it to council a year ago because after-care is being added. Council in August approved a change order for the project because it had increased in size.
"In our tours, in our research we really saw value of adding after care," he said. "We want to focus on counseling as well."
Soelberg said the project is now split into two phases and that there is no funding currently for Phase 2, which will house offices for the counselors, victim advocates and investigators and space for nonprofit partners.
The center's purpose is to save victims from having to tell their stories multiple times, further traumatizing them. It also would save detectives travel time from having to go to the advocacy centers in Mesa or Chandler.
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