Report: Woodlands' Fire Station No. 5 due for major overhaul or new site; department needs could run $13M-$14M

The Woodlands Township board of directors heard the results of a study on several township fire stations at its Oct. 22 meeting. (Screenshot via The Woodlands Township)
The Woodlands Township board of directors heard the results of a study on several township fire stations at its Oct. 22 meeting. (Screenshot via The Woodlands Township)

The Woodlands Township board of directors heard the results of a study on several township fire stations at its Oct. 22 meeting. (Screenshot via The Woodlands Township)

The Woodlands Township could be looking at around $14 million in renovations to three of its fire stations and to its emergency training center, according to a report presented at the board of directors' Oct. 22 regular meeting. This is in line with previous estimates for the projects.

The study was commissioned with money from the 2020 budget, Fire Chief Palmer Buck said. Buck previously stated the cost of the study was about $120,000.

The main variable for the end costs will be whether the township elects to renovate Station No. 5, which has significant structural issues, or to rebuild it at another site—an option that Martinez Architects, the firm conducting the study, said would only cost about 10% more than a renovation. Issues at Station No. 5 include inadequate soils that would need to be removed and replaced as well as the need to replace the slab under the building.

The needs at the other facilities were less dire, but recommendations and observations in the report include the following.

Station No. 3 (Sawdust Road)


The structure is not compromised, though some water-related issues were identified. The study recommends repairs to the air conditioning system, replacing the exterior electrical equipment as well as upgrading the fire alarm. It also recommends replacing existing plumbing fixtures and piping; updating the hot water system; and installing a fire sprinkler line and system.

Station No. 4 (Bay Branch Drive)

This structure is also not compromised, and there is normal cracking in the slab. Recommendations include replacing the existing air conditioning system as well as exterior electrical equipment; upgrading the fire alarm; and performing the same replacements to plumbing fixtures, piping, hot water systems and fire sprinklers as were recommended for Station No. 3.

Emergency Training Center (I-45 South)

Recommendations include considering a vehicle exhaust system for the apparatus bay, upgrading the fire alarm system, replacing the hot water system and relocating the building water entry.

Station No. 5 (Branch Crossing Drive)

Significant issues at the building necessitate more extensive renovations due to issues with the foundation, cracking with the slab and soils that were inadequately comprised and compacted. Otherwise, the facility is in need of repairs and replacements similar to those in the other stations.

All of the structures are about 25 years old.

If all four projects are performed, but Station No. 5 is renovated rather than rebuilt, the total cost is estimated at $13.76 million, assuming all projects are performed concurrently under a single contract. If Station No. 5 is rebuilt at another location, the total cost would be $14.7 million, according to the study.

"It's not going to happen immediately, but I agree—there needs to be a sense of urgency on that particular station," Board Vice Chair Bruce Rieser said of Station No. 5.

Buck said the department could continue operating out of Station No. 5 in the meantime.

"We're not in imminent danger of it falling down, but we also know it's not going to get any better," Buck said.

After a brief discussion, the board determined that its budget task force will look at recommendations for financing the project.

"You guys find money, and we'll go work on negotiations," Board Chair Gordy Bunch said at the end of the presentation.
By Vanessa Holt
A resident of the Houston area since 2011, Vanessa began working in community journalism in her home state of New Jersey in 1996. She joined Community Impact Newspaper in 2016 as a reporter for the Spring/Klein edition and became editor of that paper in March 2017 and editor of The Woodlands edition in January 2019.


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