Three weeks ago, a group of Green Valley Fire District Fire Corps volunteers got caught in a flood. Inside their office.
It was just the latest problem to erupt at GVFD Station 152, and now there's talk of dealing with it once and for all.
The Fire Corps shares space with firefighters who work at Station 152 at Camino del Sol and Camino Encanto. One of the bathrooms in the living quarters had plumbing issues and it "began raining inside," GVFD spokesman L.T. Pratt said.
Problematic plumbing is just one of the inconveniences GVFD crews have been dealing with over the last few years at the station, which opened in the mid-1980s.
The mounting issues convinced the GVFD Governing Board to agree Wednesday to pay WSM Architects $6,700 to inspect the station and offer an opinion as to whether it should be remodeled or razed and rebuilt.
Building a station elsewhere doesn't make sense, Pratt said. Station 152 was strategically placed.
GVFD Division Chief Joey Kosiorowski said it's at the point where the district wants to "fix this and fix this and fix this," only to hear that "it is going to lead to this and this and this."
As a result, they decided to bring in experts, he said. WSM designed GVFD Stations 151 and 155 and several other fire stations.
The district has always done routine maintenance, but "it's like anyone's house where they've lived 30-plus years, it gets used and abused," Kosiorowski said.
WSM's report should be completed within 90 days, and the board will mull its options and discuss funding, he said.
Pratt said a bond election could be one of the options considered.
In addition to the plumbing problems – which have also caused sewage to back up into a closet and laundry room, Pratt said the station has electrical, cooling and space issues. The station has swamp coolers, but the vents on the west side of the building don't work, leaving it uncomfortably hot, Pratt said.
A lack of space also means firefighters have to lift weights in the station's bay, which isn't heated or cooled. The swamp coolers had to be redirected to cool the offices and living quarters, Pratt said.
Since the station was built, the district added Internet and phone lines so cords have been dropped through suspended ceilings in several places. In one office, a utility box had a jumble of cords tumbling out of it.
The station's lack of space also means firefighters have to rotate the ambulance and three engines in and out of the bay to ensure none of them are overexposed to the elements, Pratt said. The station was built to house one ambulance and one engine.
In addition, the firefighters' washing machine is inside the station even though best practices dictate they be outside to limit staff's exposure to carcinogens. The dryer is in the bay.
Upstairs, firefighters and ambulance crews sleep in dorm-style rooms and share large showers. Firefighters at the other stations have individual rooms and showers.
"The fire service moved away from, many, many, many years ago, group bedrooms and group bathrooms," Kosiorowski said. "Individual rooms reduce sick time usage and they allow people to have a chance for reprieve in a private location."
The station's three captains perform their administrative duties in the same room they sleep.
WSM will provide cost estimates for both potential routes, Kosiorowski said.
Theoretically, once construction starts, Pratt said firefighters could end up working out of the district's headquarters, which are next door to the station. As for the Fire Corps, fire inspector and himself? They'd have to scramble to find office space.
The district's newest stations, 151 and 155, opened in 2009-10. Station 153 was built in 1997.
Station 152 is the third-busiest of the district's four stations. Of the district's 11,500 calls last year, the station handled about 1,500.