FEMA awards $1.2M toward Tacoma fire station renovation

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has awarded nearly $1.2 million to the City of Tacoma for the $4.1 million renovation of the 30-year-old, weather-beaten Fire Station No. 5 near Old Town Tacoma’s waterfront. The City, in turn, will direct $296,433 in matching funds from its biennial budget for the project. “The funding will add additional moorage and equipment to the Fire Station No. 5 retro-fit project and pay for Port [of Tacoma] security-specific equipment for the Fireboat Commencement and the joint Port of Tacoma/Tacoma Fire fast response vessel,” said interim City Manager Rey Arellano in a recent report to city council.

In March, Tacoma City Council approved a purchase resolution awarding a $411,105 contract to Reid Middleton to complete design and permitting work on the old fire station.

In February, Tacoma City Council’s public safety and human services committee recommended the full City Council approve the purchase resolution. During that meeting, Tacoma Fire Department representatives Jeff Jensen, Roger Edington, and Joshua Clarke, the fire station, which is located at 3301 Ruston Way and sits on a pier over Commencement Bay, is in need of seismic retrofitting, and the pier’s pilings suffer from “broken brace timbers, marine borer damage, split sections, and heavy fungal damage.” The damage is so severe, a fire boat typically moored at the station has been relocated to Station 18 on the Tacoma tide flats. “It’s of pretty significant importance in terms of the Tacoma Fire Department providing marine services,” Edington told council committee members during the February meeting. By being located on the tide flats, the fire boat has to travel a significant distance in a five-mile-per-hour zone before it can increase its speed and respond to emergencies on Commencement Bay and near Point Defiance Park and Tacoma Narrows Bridge, added Edington.

Renovating the fire station would also help in maintaining the accreditation the fire department was awarded in 2009 by the Commission on Fire Accreditation International. “This was addressed in the Tacoma Fire Department strategic plan, which was a part of the accreditation process, specifically to address the need to have that station back in an operational capability,” said Clarke. “We are very fortunate to be positioned where we’re at. It makes an ideal platform not only for maritime operations but as a joint staff police/fire location, but also as a platform for security cameras that will be monitored 24/7 to provide a level security for the Commencement Bay and Port of Tacoma that we currently cannot provide.”

The site has not had any major maintenance work or renovations since it opened in 1980. The $4,088,000 upgrade would be paid for by directing $3 million from bonds issued by the city two years ago, and $1,088,000 from a federal port security grant. The work would be completed in three phases. The first phase would include structural and seismic improvements and an interior remodel of the station for joint use by Port of Tacoma, Tacoma Police, the Coast Guard, and Tacoma Fire. The second phase would include new moorage for response vessels, breakwater to protect vessel moorage, and an electronics infrastructure to serve Port of Tacoma security personnel. The third phase would include a new upland apparatus bay and site improvements for an emergency service vehicle. The overall project would be completed in February 2013.

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Tacoma City Council OKs contract for fire station renovation (03/31/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1951158&more=0

Tacoma moves forward on $4.1M waterfront fire station renovation (03/01/11) — http://www.tacomadailyindex.com/portals-code/list.cgi?paper=88&cat=23&id=1934086&more=0