The new facility will be built on the same property as the existing station–4000 Atascocita Road, Humble—after the old structure is demolished.
According to Atascocita Fire Department Chief Mike Mulligan, the move is part of a multiphase project that will include the build-out of temporary living quarters at the department's upcoming maintenance shop located at Rustic Timbers Drive and Will Clayton Parkway in Humble. Mulligan said the new station is necessary to improve living quarters for staff firefighters as well as cut the cost of maintaining the old building.
“In the last four years, we’ve transitioned from a mostly volunteer department to a mostly career department, so we have full-time crews that are now living in quarters at the fire station on a daily basis,” said Mulligan, noting the original station was not intended for live-in use. “We’ve made do with some rooms we’ve modified in order to accommodate those folks, but they’re not the most conducive living environments.”
Among the improvements that will be featured at the new station include a dedicated workout room for staff members, an upgraded kitchen area and improved living quarters.
“The living quarters will all be on one floor, so it eliminates going up and down stairs, which has the potential to improve launch times,” he said. “It makes it safer for the members because they’re not coming down the stairs potentially in the dark in the middle of the night. They’re just walking on the ground floor and going out to the apparatus floor.”
According to Mulligan, the new station was originally expected to cost around $5 million, but he said that estimation has since risen to about $7.5 million due to increased supply costs and delays. That cost, he said, will be financed through a commercial loan and then paid for with annual operating funds.
Once the old fire station is demolished, Mulligan said the crew will temporarily move to the department’s new maintenance facility until the construction of the new station is completed. While the auto shop portion of the maintenance facility is already complete, live-in quarters will need to be constructed before staff members make the temporary move, he said.
Mulligan said it was difficult to determine when the crew would move to the maintenance facility and begin construction because the department is still waiting on several permits to be approved before construction can begin.
“We’re hoping and have been hoping for a year that it’ll be within the next few weeks,” he said. “We’re just waiting on these last-second hurdles to clear.”
Mulligan noted the new maintenance shop will cut costs and keep vehicles on the street longer by allowing the department to avoid sending their trucks to outside vendors, which can sometimes sideline emergency vehicles for a month or longer while shops are waiting on parts and completing repairs.
“[Moving the process in-house will allow us to] do a preliminary inspection on the truck to determine what parts we need, fix the things we need to fix, change the fluids, do the basic preventive maintenance work and put the truck back into service,” he said, noting the department has already begun in-house maintenance at Atascocita Fire Station No. 19. “When the parts get here, then we can schedule a week for the truck to be down, take the truck apart, put the new parts that we need on and then put it back in service.”