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Security tight at fire house construction

Rob Sabo

The Nevada Air National Guard has a message for subcontractors working on the $9.3 million firehouse at its Reno base: Don’t cross the red line.

The new firehouse sits a short way from the red line that demarcates the runway for Air Force C-130 Hercules airplanes.

“If you cross that, you will be put down on the concrete and taken into apprehension until we sort it all out,” says Robert Nicholas, deputy base civil engineer and a light colonel with the Air National Guard.

All workers on the project, which broke ground last week, will have to be approved for entry by the Air Guard. Nicholas says general contractor Gilbane Building Company must provide the base with a list of subcontractors and the employees that will work on the firehouse project, and anyone not on that list won’t be allowed on the facility. Each worker must have a federally issued identification card as well.

“We are very careful who is on base, and we are very careful about where they are allowed to go,” Nicholas says.

The new 18,200-square-foot, two-story firehouse replaces a much smaller structure that was part of the original base construction in 1955.

“The guys were really shoehorned in there and had a difficult time keeping their equipment under cover,” Nicholas says. “This is going to allow them to train to a really high level.”

The firehouse, which will use solar energy and radiant heat systems, will apply for Silver Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership In Energy and Environmental Design program.

Olcese Construction performed demolition of the old structure. Burns and McDonell of Kansas City, Mo. with H+K Architects acting locally designed the new firehouse.

Tedesco Pacific Construction will handle all the concrete slabwork, Vortex Steel the structural framing, Mt. Rose Heating and Air Conditioning and Briggs Electric the HVAC and electrical systems.

Between 40 and 45 subcontractors are expected to work on the job, employing between five and 10 tradesmen each, says Tom Metcalf, project executive with Gilbane Building Company.

In addition to the strict security challenges, two of the biggest obstacles workers must overcome are a shallow water table at the site and the fact that 55-year-old plans for the site don’t detail in full where existing underground infrastructure lies.

“We have maps, but nothing is where you think it is going to be until you start digging,” Nicholas says. “Guarantee you will find water lines and power. And the water table can be 2 to 7 feet down. Those are going to be the two toughest things, to get around what’s hidden, and to work around the substrate.”

The firehouse is expected to be completed in September.


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