Cities and counties throughout the U.S. are currently planning to launch new facilities to house fire and police stations. A significant number of these new projects will be designed to consolidate fire and police operations. Others will be designed to consolidate not only police and fire services but all other emergency management services as well. With strict budgets and pressure from the public not to raise taxes, providing emergency services is more than challenging. New equipment, technology and training facilities are essential and cost containment is almost impossible with outdated facilities. A trend that appears to be gathering strong support consolidates all emergency services into larger, more modernized facilities.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), there are 18,000 police stations in the U.S., and the Federal Emergency Management Administration lists 52,296 fire stations throughout the country. A large majority of the facilities are in dire need of upgrades and modernization.
Public safety complexes that house emergency services usually include police, fire, ambulatory and administrative services in one building. Some include lock-up sections. The consolidated facilities provide numerous benefits along with cost and resource reductions. Shared facilities that allow first responders to train together, become better acquainted, coordinate operations, and benefit from modernized and upgraded training areas have been shown to improve performance and reduce costs.
City leaders in Phoenix, Arizona, will oversee a $64.5 million project to replace and upgrade three fire stations. The effort will include three separate projects to create a new 18,000-square-foot, 4-bay fire station to support emergency response personnel and equipment in different locations. Each station will be supplied with upgraded pumper equipment and new rescue apparatus. Two stations will be developed at the same timeline at a cost of $21.4 million each. The third station will cost slightly more at $21.7 million.
City leaders in Lansing, Michigan, will invest $73.3 million to deliver a new public safety facility, which will be home to its police department, fire department, and district court. The new facility will have administrative offices and inmate lock-up areas also. The project is currently in the planning and design phase, officials will launch the construction phase in 2024 with a goal of opening doors to the new facility in late 2025 or early 2026.
Officials serving the Village of Wilmette, Illinois, announced that a new police facility will be constructed. Initially, a cost projection of $34 million was designated, but now, because of inflation, there seems to be little doubt that the project’s cost will be higher. The current Wilmette Police Station has required continuous upgrades and expansion since its original construction but can no longer accommodate the demand resulting from the city’s escalating growth. Components outlined in project plans include locker rooms, administrative offices, improved security systems, new technology, upgraded utility services and a larger parking area.
The Alameda County Fire Department in California will soon get a new training facility and the project’s cost has been placed at more than $30 million. The facility, located in Dublin, will be used for new cadet state certification exams, live-fire training simulation, urban rescue, and emergency vehicle operation training. It will include training rooms, offices, storage space and exercise facilities. A classroom building and training tower and a new parking area will be erected. Construction has been slated for 2024.
A bond vote in Auburn, Maine, was passed this month and citizens approved $45 million for a new public safety facility to accommodate the city’s police and fire departments. Since 2011, the police division has been housed in a temporary facility and the city’s fire department has suffered from inadequate space. Both issues will be resolved when city leaders launch the construction project. It will replace the current fire station and construct an expanded headquarters facility on a public safety campus. The complex will also include a training tower for firefighters and a firing range for police practice.
City leaders in Shreveport, Louisiana, will invest $29.5 million to construct a new police headquarters and three new smaller stations. The original Shreveport Police Station was built in 1956 and has suffered from structural issues and high maintenance costs. Its utility systems, including HVAC and plumbing, will be replaced and a new cooling system installed. The construction of three new police substations to serve specific neighborhoods or zip codes will be included in the project’s plan. Shreveport’s police department will retain part of the original building for their administrative and investigative staff and move patrol officers to one of the three new substations.
Houston officials have construction and renovation projects planned for fire stations in various parts of the city. The projects are scheduled for launch in 2024. Plans call for replacing Fire Station No. 104, a 2-bay facility which was flooded and severely damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Since the station is located within a 100-year flood plain, the city will spend $17 million to acquire property outside of the flood plain and construct a new 4-bay replacement station for the same service area. Fire Station No. 40 will also be replaced. It is one of the busiest on the south side of Houston. Population growth in this area has increased significantly, and there is a need for a larger facility, which carries a projected price tag of approximately $19.2 million. Once land has been acquired, the project’s first phase will begin. Renovations are also planned for multiple facilities, including Fire Station No. 64 at a cost of $5.6 million and Fire Station No. 80 at a cost of $9.7 million. After the city initiated a facility condition assessment of all its buildings, including fire stations, several deficiencies that require immediate attention due to safety issues, code compliance or environmental issues were identified. These renovation projects will begin in 2024.
Projects such as these will be abundant over the next several years. Federal funding is available for public safety projects, and local citizens appear willing to support bond packages that promise better public safety operations. The projects will require construction, engineering, technology, security systems, training space, parking options and equipment. In past years, upgrading fire stations in America has cost more than $2 billion annually. When other emergency operations are added to that total, the projected cost for these types of projects in 2024 and 2025 is much higher.
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