AP NEWS

Fire department breaks ground for new station

April 1, 2019

Since medical calls outnumber fire calls, it makes sense to locate a fire station close to where it will be needed

With that thought in mind, Harris County ESD No. 48 Fire and EMS (HCESD 48) broke ground March 28 on what will be its largest station when it’s built near Interstate 10 and the Grand Parkway.

The 18,481-square-foot station with four apparatus bays will be built at 24127 Western Centre Drive, Katy. Fire officials estimate that construction will take 12 to 14 months. In the meantime, the temporary station manned by the department at Cobia and Kingsland Boulevard will be relocated to the new site once concrete is poured and utilities are installed.

That’s so the crews will become familiar with the location and and how to respond to different locations at different times of day, said Simon VanDyk, department spokesman.

VanDyk said the department opened the temporary station in December 2015 because it is important to be located on the west side of the Grand Parkway and be able to respond to calls in the area.

“We originally thought we’d be a year at the temporary site,” he said, acknowledging that trailer accommodations didn’t meet the same living standards for emergency responders compared with a fire station.

“It was best for the district,” he said explaining why the temporary station is important.

Both he and Fire Chief Jeff Hevey said finding a permanent site for a fire station was difficult.

“The most difficult part was finding the land,” said Hevey. “There’s a lot of demand for land.”

The station will be built on 2.75 acres and Hevey said, “It’s right in the middle of where we need to be.”

“There’s a lot of development going on. Another 4,500 apartment units will be built in the next four to five years,” he explained. Plus the station will be located near a number of assisted living facilities as well as the heavily trafficked I-10 and Texas 99 corridors.

Site work will begin in the next few weeks.

The new Fire Station No. 1, designed by Martinez Architects, is the culmination of a three-year plan. The station will house seven emergency vehicles and will serve up to 16 fire and EMS personnel as well as two chief officers.

VanDyk said it will not require the purchase of new vehicles. For example, Rescue unit 5 based at Station 5 will be relocated to the new station and become Rescue 1 to be used for motor vehicle incidents and extrications, he explained.

“There will be no additional hiring to staff the station,” added Hevey, who explained that firefighters had a hand in the interior design of the station for their health and safety.

The station was designed with firefighter cancer prevention in mind, according to VanDyk. Crews bunker gear will be kept isolated from emitting any carcinogens in a positive pressure room. Apparatus bays will include diesel exhaust capture devices so exhaust does not contaminate common and sleeping areas of the station and crews will be able to shower after returning from calls in a specially designed area.

Cost figures for the station are unavailable. “The board is still accepting bids on some aspects of the project so the numbers aren’t final yet,” said VanDyk.

“We look forward to the station we know we’ll be really proud of in the summer of 2020,” said HCESD 48 Board President Marshall Kramer at the ground-breaking ceremony.

karen.zurawski@chron.com