Fire Station 3 gets drainage repair, gender-equal remodel

       Water is usually an ally for firefighters. But it's a little different when the water finds you while you're sleeping. That was the problem in recent years at the Westside's Fire Station 3. After a lot of rain or heavy snowmelt, the water would pool up behind the wall at the back (north) side of the building and seep into the sleeping quarters as well as the bathroom/locker areas. During a recent shift, Colorado Springs firefighters stand in
front of a pumper truck outside Station 3. They are (from
left) Lt. Eric Umenhofer, Patrick DiTullio, Corey Piper and Carrick Patterson.
Westside Pioneer photos
       Drainage repairs, channeling the water away from the wall, were underway this week; they represent the start of a $166,000 project this summer on the half-century- old station at 922 W. Colorado Ave. that will include equalizing the locker/bathroom facilities for men and women firefighters.
       There's a reason the drainage work is being done first: “We don't want to do all the work on the bathroom remodel, then have heavy rains,” commented Deputy Fire Chief Steve Cox in a recent interview at the station.
       The 4,500-square-foot station, located on a 15,300 square foot lot at Colorado Avenue and Limit Street, serves an area west to 21st Street, north to about Uintah Street, south to Motor City and east to about the interstate. Headed by Captain Ray Johnson, the station is manned 24/7, with a total of 15 firefighters working 4-at- a-time shifts.
       The gender-equality work is part of an ongoing effort by the department to upgrade its older stations to meet newer federal laws. “When fire stations were built in the past, no one thought there would be women firefighters,” Cox pointed out.
       The equalization work has functional value also, explained Fire Station 3 Lt. Eric Umenhofer. Although it is true that overall the department has considerably more male than female firefighters, “there are times we're at 50-50 (in terms of who's manning Fire Station 3),” he said.
       The money for the upgrade came from unallocated Public Safety Sales Tax money, according to Bob Lund, the department's facilities manager. Another major part of the project, in addition to the drainage fix and the remodel, will be asbestos removal.
       The contractor is Hartland Construction. The interior work could get started later this month, but an exact date has not been set. Once the contractor gets going, 30 to 45 days will be needed for completion, Lund said.
       Although about 20 percent of the station will be affected by the remodel, it will not impair service, he added. The only change the public might notice will be that Station 3's hose truck - the biggest of its kind in the department with a mile of 5-inch hose - will be temporarily relocated up Colorado Avenue to Station 5. The truck's hose length is “not often” needed, Umenhofer said, although he noted that it did come in handy during Old Colorado City's Candleworks Fire of 2003. Moving the hose truck will free up a station bay to store firefighters' lockers while the interior work takes place.
       Other up-grades at Fire Station 3 since 2005 have consisted of new windows, a new roof, new interior doors and improved exhaust ventilation. In terms of long- range plans, the station is 33rd this year on the city's Unfunded High Priority Capital Improve-ments list with a $1.1 million request to enlarge the building for a drive- through apparatus bay (by which fire trucks would enter from Limit Street and exit onto Colorado Avenue) and additional living space.

Westside Pioneer article