Architects unveil fire station’s design |

Architects unveil fire station’s design

Plans for a new $10.7 million fire station are slowly moving forward.

Ward Young Architecture and Planning last week presented the North Tahoe Fire Protection District board of directors its initial plans for the new Tahoe City fire station on Fairway Drive.

“There are lots of hoops, the least of which [is] money,” said Duane Whitelaw, fire district chief. “The fire board has decided what they want and have spent enough money to get a good idea of what the major issues are … and we’ve identified a piece of property that we would go through the environmental process to see if it’s suitable.”

The existing Tahoe City fire station was built nearly 50 years ago. Since then the staff has grown to more than 50 employees and firefighting equipment occupies more room.

“Our needs have grown and this [new] building would be a terrific opportunity for a location for managing large-scale disasters,” Whitelaw said.

The proposed station will be located across from Tahoe City Public Utility District on land the utility district owns.

Both district boards signed an agreement to work together on the project.

Currently the site is used for snow removal, but the utility district has already begun to look for alternative locations and is working with Placer County regarding a site near the Albertsons in Tahoe City, said General Manager Bob Lourey of the Tahoe City Public Utility District.

The utility district will continue to be involved in the planning process, said representatives of both agencies.

Ward Young, a Truckee-based architecture firm, has completed the schematic design and with input from the fire district will prepare structural and mechanical designs this summer.

The three-level building will host administration, emergency operations, the fire station and expanded living quarters for firefighters. The building will be about 24,500 square feet including a 6,000-square-foot apparatus bay.

“The architecture is mountain-appropriate,” said Ward Young project designer Ted Brobst. “We’re looking at low-maintenance materials ” natural metals, concrete, cement board siding. We’re also looking at green building options.”

Whitelaw said cost estimates have jumped from about $5 million to nearly $11 million, including a 20 percent contingency fund. The district is looking to local, state and federal resources because the project is too grand and too expensive, he said.

No timelines have been set for building construction, but the district hopes development is under way in the next few years.

“We’d like to build it this decade if we can,” Whitelaw said. “But a lot of things have to fall into place first.”

The proposed building will allow the implementation of an emergency operations center. The facility would serve as a hub for such local agencies as the sheriff’s department and the utility districts to gather during major regional emergencies.

“It really benefits all the agencies in the Basin that would come together to manage a large-scale disaster,” Whitelaw said.

Other local officials support relocating the existing fire station to benefit public safety.

“I think there’s an advantage to having as much government operation as close to one another as you can ” the more you can do that the better,” Lourey said.

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