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Sandy Fire prepares to withstand earthquakes

Through a $1.2 million grant, Sandy Fire District's main station will receive seismic upgrades

The Sandy Fire District has received a grant of just under $1.2 million to be used for seismic upgrades on its main station.

The grant is through Business Oregon’s Seismic Rehabilitation Grant Program, a competitive state program that provides funds for seismic rehabilitation of critical public buildings such as schools and emergency service facilities.

A seismic study was done on the Sandy fire station back in June 2001.

“It said the building was not in very good shape, but we never had the money to do anything about it,” said Sandy Fire Chief Phil Schneider.

In spring 2014, the Sandy Fire Board once again discussed the topic and elected to have another seismic study conducted. The plan was to use Urban Renewal funds, and possibly grants, to carry out any needed structural changes.

Schneider learned of Business Oregon’s program, which provides $15 million to be dispersed to public schools for seismic improvements and $15 million for emergency service agency buildings.

Sandy Fire was one of five fire departments in Oregon awarded a grant.

“We were very fortunate that we were one,” Schneider said.

Schneider said the project will take two years to complete, with the first year being taken up by gathering funds, proposals and contracts for engineering, consulting and construction.

Construction is not scheduled to begin until 2016.

The rehab grant program requires that emergency services buildings, such as Sandy Fire, be rehabilitated to the American Society for Civil Engineers “Immediate Occupancy” standards.

This means that the building must be able to remain standing and continue operating to provide services following an earthquake.

According to Schneider, the study revealed that the most problematic aspect is the second story of the main station.

“They said it would come down very easily in an earthquake,” he said.

In addition to other upgrades, construction will rebuild and stabilize the front wall of the station, complete with steel supports, Schneider said.

Sandy Fire also plans to use its own urban renewal funds coupled with those of the city to create an outside design consistent with the Sandy Cascadia look, a standard to which most new buildings in Sandy are held.

Schneider said the district also hopes to create a new bunk room and workstations where volunteers can write their reports.

“We plan on staying here while they do the rebuild, so there’s going to be some shuffling,” Schneider said. “As we get closer, we’ll look at more possibilities.”

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