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Bigger, better and newer


TVF&R puts final touches on new Wilsonville station and operations center

by:  JOSH KULLA - For the crews that will man it, the best thing about Wilsonville's new fire station is the fact they won't be living in temporary quarters anymore. For the crews that will man it, the best thing about Wilsonville’s new fire station is the fact they won’t be living in temporary quarters anymore.

The new two-story facility is state of the art and quite comfortable, but the pair of ancient Quonset huts that formerly served as the temporary home of Tualatin Valley Fire & Rescue Station No. 56 will not be missed.

“That’s a loaded question if you really think about it,” Capt. Mike Towner said when asked to compare the spacious new station with the temporary quarters it replaces.

“There’s just so much different,” he said. “The double-wide, even the old station, the layout wasn’t as functional.”

Firefighter/EMT Chuck Koleno summed it up: “You’d go from the weightroom, you’d have to go through an electrical room, through an office, through a hallway, through another living quarter, just to get out to the bay.”

The new $5.6 million facility now is home not only to Station No. 56 firefighters, but TVF&R’s South Operations Center. The latter will manage emergency operations for station Nos. 56 (Elligsen Road, Wilsonville), 34 (Tualatin), 52 (Kinsman Road, Wilsonville), 57 (Mountain Road, West Linn), 58 (Failing Street, West Linn) and 59 (Willamette Drive, West Linn).

Firefighting personnel started moving in and working out of the station Aug. 21, while operations center staff actually began working there in mid-July. The station will officially be unveiled to the public at an October open house.

A $77.5 million general obligation bond approved by fire district voters in 2006 provided the funding for the station. And by combining the old Elligsen Road fire station with the South Operations Center, said TVFR spokeswoman Karen Eubanks, the district will save an estimated $87,000 annually that once was spent leasing space for an operations center in Tualatin.

“We’re very fortunate, too, in terms of our community support,” Eubanks said. “The fact this was supported by a bond from the voters, we don’t take that support for granted.”

The old fire station on the north side of Elligsen Road in Wilsonville was formerly the headquarters of the Tualatin Rural Fire District. The location always was superb, Eubanks said, but the aging structure, built in 1979, had fundamental flaws.

“While the location worked great from a response perspective,” Eubanks said, “the combined fire station and office space had major structural and design deficiencies and was undersized for today’s emergency operations staffing and equipment needs. Seismic concerns were also significant and would have required millions of dollars to retrofit the building.”

Fire Station No. 56 will house an engine and a truck company and includes working and living quarters for 24 firefighters working eight per shift.

At first, though, the station will be staffed by just 12 firefighters working four per shift.

The adjustment shouldn’t be difficult, said Firefighter/EMT Jeff Marcus.

“I was there for a year-and-a-half, and it was actually pretty comfortable for the four of us to live in there,” Marcus said. “There was a nice double-wide that other stations have used, all the rigs were protected. We could sleep and eat and do everything we do now, but this is so much newer, it’s more functional, it’s built to be a fire station, where the double-wide was built to live in. We made it work and it worked just fine.”

There also are two pull-through apparatus bays for fire engines and other large vehicles.by: JOSH KULLA - A shiny new stainless steel fire pole is a favorite feature of the men and women who will work in the new station No. 56 in north Wilsonville.

The building also has office space for integrated operations staff that will include a division chief, battalion chiefs, an assistant fire marshal, deputy fire marshals and a public affairs officer. They are responsible for managing emergency operations at stations Nos. 34, 52, 56, 57, 58 and 59. In addition, they will handle community and governmental affairs, fire prevention, investigation and public education programs for the communities of Wilsonville, West Linn, Tualatin, Durham, Rivergrove and unincorporated portions of Clackamas County.

The facility also will help with regional disaster planning. The South Operating Center is intended to serve as an alternate fire operations center and is home to the district’s South Battalion Headquarters. The battalion headquarters would work closely with the district’s operations center in Tigard, the city of Wilsonville and other service providers during a major emergency or disaster.

Finally, the new site also houses the fire district’s backup data server.

Even the materials and construction of the new facility are a source of pride for the district. Energy- and lighting-efficient design was employed. It will use solar preheat for hot water, day lighting and lighting occupancy sensors.

The building also is structurally designed to retrofit with solar panels as solar industry develops. This includes built-in photovoltaic panel preparation and pathways.

Green materials including carpet, wood framing and more were used, along with limited common indoor air pollutants or volatile organic compounds, Eubanks said.

“It’s much more efficient than the old station,” she said.