Fire stations need revamp

Fire chief Les Kenworthy discusses the needs of the department July 12 in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — The Twin Falls Fire Department’s headquarters and two substations will need to be rebuilt with substantial changes to accommodate the present and future needs of the growing department, according to a study presented Monday to the City Council.

The study by Pivot North Architecture in Boise analyzed the conditions of Stations One, Two, and Three, all of which TFFD says will need to be rebuilt in the coming years, and outlined the needs of the department for future decades.

The TFFD has gone through major changes since the existing stations were built in the 1960s and 1970s, Chief Les Kenworthy told the Council.

“Our forefathers did a pretty good job of planning to have facilities that have lasted this long,” Kenworthy said. “But…we’re at the end of their lifespan.”

Station One on Second Avenue East and Station Three on Washington Street South, both constructed in the 1970s, are in “moderate” condition, according to the study. Station Two, on Falls Avenue, built in the 1960s, is in “poor” condition.

All three of the stations are lacking adequate ventilation in the apparatus bay and separate spaces for dirty or hazardous materials. Station One has no women’s locker room and just one women’s restroom with no shower, while Stations Two and Three have no restrooms or showers for women.

Stations Two and Three also lack living space for additional personnel and room for needed fitness equipment, the study said.

While the number of employees within the department hasn’t grown substantially since the old stations were constructed, TFFD offers a wider variety of services than it did in years past, Kenworthy told the Council.

“We’re no longer just your fire department,” Kenworthy said. The department now provides EMS services and is capable of performing a range of rescue operations, fighting different types of fires, handling hazardous materials and offering fire prevention education.

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Because of this, the new stations will likely need more clearly defined work areas, including designated areas for “dirty work,” computer tasks, community meetings, fitness and winding down after a particularly difficult day.

“Sometimes it becomes very traumatic and having a space where you can go disconnect and get out of the work environment is very important,” Kenworthy said.

The study projects construction on Station Two starting in spring 2020, construction on Station Three starting in summer 2020 and construction on Station One starting in Spring 2021.

An additional station will likely need to be built as well at some point, but there is no projected construction time yet.

The study estimated the costs of rebuilding each station as well, putting Station One at about $10.2 million, Station Two at $8.5 million, Station Three at $7.5 million and the additional station at $8.8 million.

If a list of optional additive features including an extra apparatus bay and a police micro-station were to be added to each fire station, however, the costs could go up to $11.4 million for Station One, $10.3 million for Station Two, $8.6 million for Station Three, and $9.9 million for the additional station.

One hypothetical bond scenario, which would pay to rebuild the three existing stations, would cost an estimated $35.4 million while a second hypothetical bond scenario that also includes construction of an additional station would cost an estimated $45.3 million.

A citizen committee will now review the city’s options and come before the council with a recommendation. Members of the public are welcome to weigh in throughout this process, deputy city manager for public safety Brian Pike said.

“As far as I’m concerned, this is really a community conversation,” Pike said.

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