FAIRFIELD — An architectural firm has recommended the city of Fairfield move its fire station into the former Department of Transportation building on West Briggs Avenue.
The city hired Klingner & Associates to study five possible locations for the fire station, including remodeling the existing building on North Second Street. During Monday night’s Fairfield City Council meeting, the company’s architectural department director Michael Fries appeared before the council and delivered a report detailing his findings, including the recommendation to move the fire station.
Fries stated in his report that after reviewing five sites, the former DOT site was the best fit for the city’s needs. He said one of the buildings on the lot will need to be demolished to accommodate the footprint of the new fire station.
The other four sites Klingner studied were:
• Corner of 12th and Broadway.
• Corner of Fourth and Lowe (New Chicago).
• 104 N. Second St. (Existing fire station).
• Corner of Highland and Jefferson (Old Helipad).
After hearing from Fries, the council voted to narrow its focus by further investigating the former DOT site and the current fire station as the two finalists for the site of a new fire station.
Fairfield City Administrator Aaron Kooiker said that, even though Klingner recommended the former DOT site, the council wants to “dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T,’” which is why it hasn’t given up on remodeling the fire station’s existing building.
That said, Kooiker said he believes the former DOT site is probably the best choice, and the one he thinks the council will end up choosing.
Klingner looked at how quickly fire trucks could get to various parts of town depending on where the fire station was located. The former DOT site scored well on this metric because it is centrally located in the town.
However, Klingner’s analysis did not touch on the feasibility of structural upgrades to the buildings on the former DOT site. The company said such a thing was the purview of a structural engineer, which the company has on staff, and who could be called upon in future analyses. Kooiker said the city will probably hire Klingner to perform that structural engineering analysis.
The former DOT site contains two buildings, one brick on the west side of the lot and the other wood-framed on the east side, both built in the late 1960s. Klingner’s report mentions that current building codes are more stringent than when the buildings were erected and could require upgrades to put them in compliance. The wood-framed building is larger and has a bigger basement but is a lower quality of construction. Klingner’s report states that one of the two buildings would need to be demolished.
Advantages listed for the former DOT site include the fact that utilities are already connected to the lot, that it’s only a couple of blocks away from the existing fire station and thus won’t affect response time much, and that it’s large enough to accommodate a new fire station.
Among the disadvantages listed are the uncertainty about reusing one of the existing buildings, the fact one of them would require updates to its electric and plumbing systems, the presence of a slope on the south part of the lot that might need to be fixed, and the added cost of demolishing one of the two buildings.
Regarding the existing fire station, Klingner wrote in its report that its advantages included the fact that it can currently function as a fire station, has all utilities already connected, is centrally located, and has an enclosed internal stairway that can be used for training. Its disadvantages included the cost of remodeling the building, the fact it has outgrown its footprint, that there is no room for additional vehicles or personnel, and that the current layout has the sleeping quarters open directly to the vehicle bays, which could pose a risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.