Near $400K fire department architectural design, construction management spending increase approved

Published 12:20 am Friday, March 1, 2024

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Plans for two new fire stations in Port Arthur are getting beefed up to better serve the residents in their service areas.

Initial architectural design costs for Station 3, serving Port Acres, and Station 2, serving the Westside, were based on early projections for a medium-sized building. Then as officials went through the process of needs and the health and safety of the future, the size changed from 12,800 square feet to 16,152 square feet in size.

Marcus Gibbon and Ashton Holiday with Brown Reynolds and Watford Architects gave Port Arthur City Council a status update on the projects this week.

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“Station 3 was built in 1961 and has had a full life,” Gibbon said.

The new station will be located on the corner of 61st Street and Ray Avenue. It will feature three bays and sleeping for eight.

Plans were tweaked after hearing input from the community. A community room would be located in the front of the building, where groups can hold meetings and a treatment room located off the lobby, where physicians can come in and provide vaccinations or checkups for the community, Gibbon said.

There will be ample parking for the community, with 17 spaces, and a secure area in the back for firefighters parking with 16 spaces.

Port Arthur Fire Chief Greg Benson said there are safety-related features such as air locks between the apparatus port and living quarters.

Through the years it’s been noted firefighters have a higher risk of cancer than the average population, likely due to diesel exhaust and other toxic products firefighters bring back on the gear, Benson said.

Benson said the two stations would have the same design.

“We are thinking ahead,” Benson said, that fire stations are critical to the community infrastructure.

Considering the amount of the city’s investment, it’s not uncommon to look at today’s needs and what might be needed 20, 30 or 40 years.

The new stations would have hurricane-rated windows and doors, exterior masonry, metal roof — all designed with storms in mind.

Size is also a factor to consider.

With Station No. 3, when an apparatus goes out the front door, there is only 6 to 8 inches of space on each side, Benson said.

“Another thing we’re looking at, when the next disaster comes and there is a need for mutual aid units to come in, we need to have enough room at both Station 3 and 2,” he said. “Additional crews can park outside the building if needed and crews can be in the station.

The before-mentioned treatment room can also double as office space if needed. Benson said a police officer could use the room to write a report instead of going all the way back to the police department, should they be in the area of the fire stations.

City Council on Tuesday approved increasing the cost of architectural design and construction management by $227,350 for a total of $968,050 for Station 3 and an increase of $172,475 for a total of $740,575 for Station 2.

Council approved rebuilding the fire stations in 2021 when health and safety concerns were raised, as neither is compliant with current guidelines.

Station No. 2, located at 1201 Grannis Avenue, was built in 1971 and is approximately 5,600 square feet.

Station No. 3, located at 2232 Canal Street, was constructed in 1961 and is the same size as No. 2.

A location for the new Station No. 2 has not been finalized.