A multi-million dollar expansion of the fire station on east 32nd Street is underway.
Durango Fire Protection District expects to spend $3.1 million to expand the 1,000-square-foot Fire Station No. 3 into a 10,600 square-foot building that will house additional vehicles and staff.
Northern Durango has seen residential and commercial growth in recent years driving the need to improve the 20-year-old station. The station’s staff is also responding to a rapidly growing number of emergency calls each year, said Fire Chief Hal Doughty. The station staff responds to about 800 emergency calls annually, he said.
The expansion was made possible, in part, by a property tax increase that voters approved last year.
Voters across the 325-square-mile district approved a tax increase that boosted the district’s budget by about $3 million annually.
“It is being put to use, so we can better serve the community,” Doughty said of the revenue boost.
The increase brought the district’s 2018 budget up to $13.8 million.
The property tax increase was intended to hire staff, buy vehicles and invest in infrastructure.
The new building will allow the fire district to increase the number of staff working each shift from four to five emergency responders, DFPD Capt. Justin Wickes said.
Additional staff will allow the fire crews to start fighting fires more quickly once they arrive, he said. It will also allow the station to keep two staff members and a fire truck ready and available to respond to calls when three employees are needed to staff the ambulance, he said.
“It honestly makes our EMS and fire capabilities better,” he said.
Construction at the station will be phased so that staff can continue working out of the station, Doughty said.
In the first phase, a two-story portion of the structure will be built on the southwest corner of the property. The new structure will house three bays for vehicles on the first floor. The second floor will have seven small bunk rooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room and deck, according to plans submitted to the city.
In the second phase, the existing building will be significantly remodeled. When complete, it will house two vehicle bays, a fitness area and a training and meeting room. The first and second phase will be connected by an entryway. Work is expected to be finished in May or June, Doughty said.
Work at the 32nd Street station is one of several priority construction projects, including a new training facility and upgrades for other fire stations, the district pitched to the public as part of the property tax increase.
Next year, the fire district plans start work on infrastructure construction in preparation for a training facility in Bodo Industrial Park near the fire station on Sheppard Drive, Doughty said.
The district expects to move some fire hydrants and put in driveways that are needed for new building, he said.
The district’s No. 1 priority is replacing the undersized Station No. 2 near Camino del Rio and 12th Street, better known as the downtown fire station, he said.
But the district has not reached an agreement with the Durango City Council on where the new station should be built, Doughty said.