DMFD Station 145 demolished in preparation for construction of new station
DESERT HILLS – Daisy Mountain Fire Department Station 145 in Desert Hills has now been torn down, and construction on a new building will begin in the next few weeks. During construction, the Station 145 firefighters are working out of temporary quarters located just south of the station, so there will be no interruption of service.
Station 145 was originally built in 2001. About five years ago, DMFD staff began noticing significant structural problems with the building, including large foundational cracks, popping floor tiles, and septic issues.
“We started developing structural cracks and plumbing separation,” said DMFD Deputy Chief Danny Johnson of the issues at Station 145.
Johnson, who is managing the project, noted that though the problems were repaired, the cracks and other issues continued to come back. They decided to do a study to determine the root cause, and Johnson noted that they “unveiled a whole host of issues.”
Expansive soil has caused these foundational problems at the station, necessitating either major repairs or tearing down the old station and building a new one. According to DMFD, as part of the studies done on Station 145, the cost of repairing versus replacing the station was considered, and the cost was about the same. The building has no warranty.
Referencing the feasibility studies performed, Johnson said, “To get structurally sound, we realized not only would it be almost the same price, even with the repairs, there still wouldn’t be a warranty on that structure. We figured we’d be putting taxpayer money into a bad building.”
The construction of the new station is funded by a bond; these funds will also support construction of the new DMFD administration building in Anthem, radio infrastructure, and repairs and remodels at the other three fire stations.
According to Johnson, there is no other recourse for funding the new station; the fire board explored options, but nothing is available. Former DMFD Fire Chief and contractor Tom Healy, who passed away in 2010, oversaw the building of the station himself, as it was decided at the time that this would be most cost-effective and efficient. Construction elements were subcontracted to a number of other companies, many of which are no longer in existence. DMFD is considered the contractor for the building, and there is no real warranty.
To avoid having the same problem with the expansive soil in the area, DMFD’s contractor selection process included getting details from each company on how they would prevent the situation from recurring. Johnson noted that there are ways to amend the soil that will remove the issues from it, which will be taken care of before construction.
Johnson said multiple interior items, including equipment and appliances, were salvaged from the station so that they can be used at other stations as needed. He noted that, as the air conditioning units are 16 years old, there wasn’t much market value left in them, but they will be recycled, along with copper and other materials.
“Part of the demolition’s company bid is they go in and salvage and separate a lot of what’s in the building. What they can recycle, they recycle. They separated what’s salvageable,” Johnson said. This keeps the company’s costs down, and the savings is reflected in a reduction of cost to DMFD.
Multiple residents, both on-site at the demolition and online, questioned why the station garage doors weren’t salvaged.
“We salvaged a lot of the expensive garage door motors,” Johnson explained, noting that the doors themselves were "beat up". He added that they discussed removing the doors, but that several issues arose: that it would leave the empty station wide open for anyone trying to get in; they couldn’t have a private citizen remove the doors, as anyone working on the station has to be insured; and they would have to hold a specialized auction to sell the doors. Due to the station being government property, the doors would have had to go to a public auction with specific requirements for notifications and bidding, and a company would have to have been hired to remove the doors and take them to auction. The salvage company will recycle the metal of the doors and pass the savings to DMFD, which was determined to be more cost-effective than holding an auction to sell the doors.
The new station will include a community room, an EMS exam room, and innovations to keep the station cleaner, including an exhaust removal system to combat the diesel exhaust from the engines. DMFD is also working with the Anthem Community Council and the New River/Desert Hills Community Association to improve the trailhead area that adjoins the station.
Johnson said DMFD is planning a groundbreaking for the station in mid-April.
“We’re hoping to be move-in ready by November. That’s our projected goal,” Johnson said.