LAWTON, Okla._Residents on Lawton’s southwest side finally have a specific target date for the opening of the city's newest fire station. City officials expect it to be up and running as early as January 2017.
The plans for Station No. 8, which will be located on Southwest Bishop Road between 52nd Street and 67th Street, have been completed and city engineers are hoping to send out bids for construction as soon as possible.
The approval to do so and to hire 12 new firefighters to operate the station was scheduled to be presented to City Council Tuesday evening, but the item was put on hold until the next meeting.
This new station is not only going to be largest in the city, but also has upgrades to make the facility feel more like home for the firefighters.
The project's chief engineer, Billy Tramel, said the 16,000-square-foot station will be equipped with upgrades to make the functionality of the station better. Those upgrades include four 80-foot bays that will better house the large trucks and a wraparound drive, which will make it so the trucks can pull through, rather than back into the station.
"We went around and asked the firemen 'what are your latest needs, what you have seen elsewhere.' We've also toured several facilities," Tramel said.
Tramel said they modeled Station No. 8 after the better parts of those tours.
"We want it to be more comfortable for the fireman, they're staying there 24 hours at a time."
That will include a more open floor plans and home-like features.
"The day room is a living area tied into the kitchen more like a house, or at least in more modern houses, instead of a more formal, traditional dining area," Tramel explained.
It will also sleep up to 20 firefighters and have a commercial style kitchen.
Fire Chief Dewayne Burk said the new station will help make the department as a whole more efficient.
"When you have the 8th station come on board, you'll split the community in half where you'll have command officers assigned to each district. For instance in Lawton, it'll be an east and a west," Chief Burk said.
He predicted stations 4, 5, 7, and 8 will make up the west side, and stations 1, 2, 3, and 6 will be the eastern district, with the dividing line either Sheridan Road or 38th Street.
Chief Burk said this division and the location of the new station will help serve the growing southwest side of Lawton.
"Pretty significant section of Lee Boulevard that's got a lot of commercial businesses there, and then the new development of all of the houses around there," Chief Burk said.
Due to the wide turning radius of the fire trucks, the city will also be looking to widen that section of Bishop Road near the station into two 12-foot lanes with four-foot shoulders. Early estimates on the cost of the project came in between $3 million and $4 million.