The broken glass crunched under Patrick Kramer’s shoes Thursday afternoon outside two vacant homes on 17th Avenue.
The shattered windows, carved up roofs and knocked down walls were signs of the drills Longmont firefighters have run in the homes. But the training for search and rescue and forced entry has only been a secondary purpose for the roughly 2-acre property.
Kramer, Longmont Fire Department public information officer and engineer, said the department is working to acquire permits to demolish the 1950s homes at 2212 and 2208 17th Ave. He said he expects demolition to take place in the next couple of weeks.
Once demolition is complete, construction on the new Fire Station No. 2 is planned to begin, possibly this summer. In the next nine to 12 months, Kramer said, the fire department hopes to have the station operational.
The new building, which will include five apparatus bays, will replace the department’s old Fire Station No. 2, at 2300 Mountain View Ave.
On the south side of town, Kramer said, demolition work is also planned in the weeks ahead for the department’s old Fire Station No. 6, built in 1971. A new station will be built at that site, 501 S. Pratt Parkway.
“It’s needed,” Kramer said. “It’s really needed. It’s not like we just wanted a nice new station. They are just antiquated. We can only retro-fit things so many times, before it’s cost prohibitive.”
Longmont City Manager Harold Dominguez echoed this, saying that the current stations are outdated.
“These new stations will be larger, with adequate room for staff, equipment and future growth — all critical aspects to quick response times,” Dominguez wrote in an email.
Built in 1967, the apparatus bays at the Mountain View station are very narrow, with no clearance to conduct maintenance and training. There’s also asbestos in the ceiling.
The Times-Call reported in 2019 that the capital improvements program entry for the Mountain View station deemed it as “problematic,” because there is no room for expansion without encroaching on neighbors or street rights of way. Both driveways are also located on the wrong side of a blind curve, among other design flaws.
Kramer said the same time frame applies to Fire Station No. 6, with work on the properties being done in tandem with the 17th Avenue properties. He said the hope is to have an operational Station No. 6 in a year or less. Fire Station No. 6 will also have five drive-thru apparatus bays.
Station No. 6 crews have already moved out of the building and are operating out of a temporary facility on South Sherman Street, Kramer said.
Building both stations will cost about $9 million, according to Kramer. The cost to acquire the property and build the new facilities is being financed by a municipal bond sale approved by Longmont voters in 2018.
As for the original Fire Station No. 2, Dominguez said the city doesn’t plan to sell the building at this time and will be evaluating its public safety needs to decide what to do with the space next.
Training has ceased at the 17th Avenue homes, with too much damage done to be able to conduct further drills. Now, Kramer looks forward to seeing how the property will serve firefighters next as a station.
“I will allow us to serve the city better with more space and training,” Kramer said.
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