Sandy firefighters expect February reunion in renovated station house
Sandy has many new opportunities awaiting in 2018. By Jan. 22 the Sandy Fire District hopes to start moving into its new station. And by Feb. 1, the firefighters hope to be able to serve their community from the new facility.
"We're excited," Fire Chief Phil Schneider said. "This has been a long journey. Our guys have been really understanding and flexible."
The new fire station has been in the works for more than a year, starting as a renovation that quickly became a full-on rebuild.
The original 1969 facility had been in need of repairs or replacement for quite some time, and the change in state regulations regarding seismic safety made renovating the building a high priority for the district.
The state wants any new structure to not only protect workers and be able to withstand a sizable earthquake, but remain functional after such an event so the firefighters can continue to serve their community.
To meet these standards, the district applied for and received a $1.2 million grant. The completion of the grant's requirements deadlined at the end of this year, and the department finished its seismic work on Dec. 21.
"The state worked very well with us, but was very firm (on the grant requirements)," Schneider explained.
The total cost to the district for the rebuild is about $6 million. Schneider originally estimated the bill to be around $5.6 million.
But, Schneider assured, the overage was covered by a contingency fund the department had in place.
"Everything is pretty much back on track," Schneider explained. "Taxpayers won't have to pay additional tax money. One of our biggest challenges is we're falling back into the winter weather, (but) we're doing the best we can with the elements."
Schneider added that since the last delay, which had set the completion date back to December from October, the department has agreed upon a revised contract.
The contract stipulates liquidated damages for any further delays in the project, meaning Skyward Construction Inc. would have to pay a fee for every day they are late from this day forward.
"If not done by Jan. 22, we are looking at liquidated damages," Schneider said. "At this next contract date, if we're not done we would start charging them back."
To complement the new station, the department also recently purchased a new engine.
The vehicle will begin servicing the area around the same time the new station is set to open for business.
"We've been saving for this for three years," Schneider said.
The new engine is called a custom road queen and cost the department $587,000. It's equipped with four-wheel drive capabilities for less accessible locations.
Overall, the main thing the firefighters are looking forward to in the new year is being in one place. For the past year, the crew of volunteer and career fighters had to split up and operate from satellite stations, like Dover, and rely on the partnership of the Oregon Trail School District to house their engines.
"I'm looking forward to getting everyone back together in the same place," he added. "We had to think outside the box for this project. Everything got scattered. I'm proud of everyone (for) making this happen."