SILETZ –– After several months of construction work and operations out of cramped temporary quarters, the firefighters of the Siletz Valley Fire District got their old station back last Friday, complete with reinforced foundation, an up-to-code fire alarm and new lockers, among other new building amenities.
“Those doors open up quicker,” said RC Mock, the Siletz Valley fire chief. “We’re back to a normal, dependable fire agency.”
The fire district was awarded a $1.3 million grant for seismic upgrades to the station, paying for reinforcements to the soil under the fire station and installing structural supports to ensure the building doesn’t collapse in the event of an earthquake. The station also got a new roof out of the deal.
Work on the station started in April and Mock described the fire crew’s rented home of eight months as a bit cramped.
“We were just trying to maintain services as best we could with the goal in mind of the big picture,” Mock said. “We wanted a well-functioning building that would be here if the Big One does happen.”
The fire chief still expects work on small change-orders and last-minute projects to continue for the next couple of months, but the large projects that kept the fire crew out of their station for so long are now complete. The crew and other members of the greater Lincoln County community gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Friday to celebrate the completion of building improvements.
The soil reinforcement was the single most expensive item, Mock added, since it involved a new process in which a polymer is injected underneath an existing building to solidify soil and ensure the ground doesn’t shift as much in an earthquake.
“They do it in a grid pattern, so underneath the building, it’s almost like you’re pouring concrete underneath the building,” Mock said. “It doesn’t affect water flow or groundwater or any other stuff, so it’s environmentally friendly and it’ll help the building.”
According to those who worked on the building, the fire station’s exterior was stripped down to the studs. Workers replaced side sheeting, in addition to the other seismic upgrade work.
“We spent a lot of time in structural upgrade,” said Jon Sackett, the superintendent for Baldwin General Contracting, the company that did the seismic update work. “There were a lot of hurdles in trying to get the electrical up to reasonably close to code, at least, and everything we touched got up to code. It was pretty dire straits.”