Out with the old to ready for the new

<p>It didn’t take long to tear down the old Pacific County Fire District No. 1 administrative building last Thursday. The building was demolished in preparation for a new one to be built.</p>

OCEAN PARK — The demolition of an old office building last week was the long-awaited illustration of a local fire department’s careful financing and strategic planning to update their facility and make their agency’s day-to-day operations more efficient.

Pacific County Fire District No. 1’s administration office — on the east side of Ridge Avenue just south of 262nd Place — was originally built as a home in the 1940s.

In the 1980s, the fire district acquired the property, which for the past 30 years has served as conveniently placed office space. But due to its age, and the way it was remodeled back in 2003, the building has hosted leaks, mold and dry rot.

Poor insulation provided little temperature control, requiring space heaters in the winter and open doors and windows in the summer.

Fire Chief Jacob Brundage says the wiring was old and not grounded, which not only could not support all the office’s electrical demands but was becoming a hazard.

Also of big concern was the insufficient storage space for medical and employment records.

Due to the age of the building, the septic system also needed to be upgraded. And before it was demolished Thursday, one could find weeds growing up and through the gap between the floor and the walls.

The building upgrade has been part of the fire district’s long-term plans since establishing a facilities plan back in 2007. That plan also called for expanding the Surfside station, which was completed in 2010, and creation of a training facility mid-Peninsula.

According to Brundage, the fire district initially considered purchasing a modular style office, but when project bids came in, it was determined that a stick-built structure would be more affordable.

After performing asbestos abatement, the department salvaged what they could before the 45-foot by 45-foot office was torn down last week.

“We’ve reclaimed as much as possible for use in other projects,” Brundage explains. “Bricks, tongue and groove paneling, light fixtures and the windows.”

Until the new building is complete, the district’s division chiefs are working out of the Seaview station while the rest of the administrative staff are working in the office space in the fire station.

New and improved

The new building will have a similar footprint as the one before it, measuring 44 feet by 44 feet. The $300,000 project will be done by SAW Construction, which will use local contractors.

A single story structure with cement siding and 30-year roof, the new administration building will have six offices, two bathrooms, a utility room, break room and a centralized work area. Brundage estimates there will be document storage space four to five times larger than the room they had before, as well as additional vehicle parking spaces.

The building will be appropriately wired for all of the department’s needs and the break room will be equipped with a backup generator and communication tools so that the department could use it as an emergency operations center in the event of a large-scale disaster.

With extra room in the fire station across the street when the office is done, Brundage says one room can be dedicated to employee training and another room will be made into a patient treatment room, which will ensure privacy for walk-ins who need blood pressure and blood sugar checks and other medical assistance.

“We’ll be able to repurpose the existing space at little to no cost to meet those needs as we grow,” explains Brundage. “We’re just taking the areas we’ve had and using them more efficiently.”

The project is funded by $100,000 in the district’s reserves and a $200,000 loan through the Bank of Pacific, who was able to refinance the district’s current debt at the same time without increasing the debt service rates.

The fire chief expects the project to be complete in October, which will be followed by an open house event for the public.

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