Almost 2 years ago, The City of Kingfisher passed a penny sales tax to build a new fire station. After approval, it was discovered that the numbers given for the cost were about 6 years old. At that time, the price per square foot of a building was about $300, and due to COVID, and supply chain issues, it is now approximately $500+ a square foot. Since the original calculation was based on old data, the total amount from the sales tax was going to be a total of $7.5 to $8.5 million, and factoring in inflation, it was estimated that the actual cost would be around 10 million dollars for the new station. After many discussions and debates, the city voted in favor of this amount on July 10th and approved 20,000 square feet for the project.
Fire Chief, Tony Stewart, stated, “Our biggest problem at this point is having space for our vehicles.” The current fire station was built 47 years ago and was built with 6 bay doors to hold 6 units. Currently, the Fire Department has a ladder truck, 4 ambulances, 2 engines, a tanker, 3 brush rigs, a command unit, a rescue boat, a mass disaster trailer, and a decontamination trailer. Since they have outgrown the current facility, half of their units are stationed at the County barn which is 3 blocks east of the fire station. Chief Stewart stated, “In our game time is life,” and if they have a serious fire, “our typical procedure would be to get in an ambulance or a rural truck, drive down there, start it up, hope that the air tanks are full, and then when they get that out of the barn, they have to come back to the station and pick up their help. So that is a lot of time wasted.” Time is important not only for life and property but also for ISO ratings. The ISO, Insurance Services Office, fire score is a rating that determines how well the fire department can protect your community and home. Insurance companies use the score to help set home insurance rates. Since a home that is less likely to be severely damaged or destroyed by a fire is cheaper to insure. They use the fire department’s response times when calculating the score, so it is important that they are able to access all their equipment in a timely manner.
The Kingfisher Fire Department has 18 full-time men and 1 volunteer that are on a 6-man shift rotation. For housing, the dorm room will hold a maximum of 5 beds, so they had to convert an office into a bedroom for the captain on duty. They also have a small bathroom that will only accept one person at a time which also houses a small shower, and their washer and dryer. The living quarters also have a small kitchen, dining room, and sitting area. This space also doubles as their training area. Chief Stewart says, “It’s not conducive for good training, to be honest with you. It’s living quarters, it’s not a training room. And that is one of the things that we’re asking for that we’ve never had before in our new station.”
Another issue they are facing with their current facility is the lack of a “warm zone.” The bays are considered “hot zones” because they hold all the dangerous carcinogens and hydrocarbons that the firefighters bring back from fires and that are produced from the fuel in their vehicles. The living quarters are considered the “cold zone” because that is where they sleep, and have their day-to-day activities. Standard practice in modern fire stations is to have a warm zone that puts distance between these areas to prevent prolonged exposure to these dangerous substances. Currently, both the dorm room and the living room share a direct door to the bays.
When driving by the fire station you may wonder why they are needing a new one because the current one is in good shape from the outside. Chief Stewart explains that there is more than meets the eye, and “We take pride in this community and what they’ve given us, which is equipment, a building. We take pride in the fact that we don’t know how long this will have to last us. So we’ve done our best to make this station last and be as nice as possible because it belongs to the city. It belongs to the citizens. And that’s our way of being good stewards with people’s money.”
By the time they move out of the current station, they will have been there for 50 years, and the goal is to make the new one last 50 years or longer, so it is important to plan for the future with the planning of the building. The new station is planned on being built on the 1500 block of South Main. The land is just over 3 acres.
Now that the budget and dimensions have been approved, the architect can now get to work developing a plan. Once the planning is complete, construction will begin. All About Kingfisher will be following the development of the new fire station, so stay tuned. If you would like to watch the video detailing the current fire station you can watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNy_iZBcodE