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Fire hall design follows function

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An architectural rendering by LHB shows the floor plan of the Superior's planned headquarters fire station building.2 / 3
An architectural rendering from LHB shows the exterior of the new Superior headquarters fire station.3 / 3

A new headquarters fire hall is on tap for the city of Superior.

Bids for the $4.5 million construction project went out Tuesday, according to Superior Fire Chief Steve Panger.

The new structure will encompass more than 20,000 square feet, double the size of the current fire hall at 3326 Tower Ave. Construction is slated to start in May and be completed in November, with final site work and a new out-building planned for spring 2019.

The current fire hall, built in 1980, will remain in operation as the new building is constructed 15 feet away. Then it will be demolished.

The project fills a growing need for space.

"Things have changed since 1980," Panger said. "We do provide more services and with that comes more equipment."

The new fire hall will boast enough room to store all the equipment that is out in the elements or in a North End storage building together in one spot. It will house a large training room and a hose tower that can double as a training tower.

"We're excited we're going to have that available to us at any time," Panger said.

Additional crew space will accommodate both male and female employees while being ADA compliant. There will be a spot to repair air packs, a maintenance room, decontamination area and separation between dirty and clean areas to control contact with harmful substances encountered on the job.

The building features drive-through stalls and ceilings high enough to allow crews to tip the cabs of the engines up to access the motors underneath.

"The design features are designed around what we do," Panger said of the new building.

Funding for the $500,000 design and planning phase was approved in 2016. The $4.5 million construction cost is slated to come from the city's Capital Improvement Program.

Panger said officials looked at whether they could continue to use the 1980 building and just add on, but it had structural issues.

"It was clear the most cost-efficient way was to build new," Panger said.

He said the new, energy-efficient building is designed to last 50 years.

"We're hoping the operational costs for this building, even though it's considerably larger than the current building, will be similar to costs now," Panger said.

The headquarters building is always a hub of activity for the department, the chief said. It hosts department training, car seat clinics, public events and other customer-oriented services.

"One nice thing, I think this space will work better for the public," he said.

A report on the progress and history of the project will be presented at Tuesday's Common Council meeting, and the Council will consider bonding for the new fire hall.

Keep tabs on the construction project on the Superior Fire Department Facebook page.