DeLand is getting a new fire station Downtown.
At a meeting Sept. 10, DeLand city commissioners and members of the public got their first glimpse of what it could look like.
City staff, along with a consultant from SchenkelShultz Architecture of Orlando, presented a concept for the facility that will replace Fire Station 81 and add a police evidence building.
The City Commission meeting normally would have been Sept. 2, but was moved to Sept. 4 due to Labor Day, then to its final date because of Hurricane Dorian.
The new fire station will sit on the former site of DeLand's Elks Lodge, at the northwest corner of South Clara and West Howry avenues. The city voted in 2018 to buy the lodge site for $875,000, and the Elks moved to a new lodge at 614 S. Alabama Ave.
The evidence facility is slated to be built at the southeast corner of the same intersection, directly across from DeLand Police headquarters.
Consultant Johnnie Lohrum from SchenkelShultz gave commissioners an overview: a 16,100-square-foot, two-story fire station, with a 3,500-square-foot outbuilding for additional vehicle storage.
Inside, the building will have all the trappings of a modern fire station: staff offices, training areas, decontamination rooms, a fitness room and more.
A large retention bay will accommodate four vehicles parked side-by-side.
The 2.59-acre site will also contain two large retention ponds — more than necessary for the buildings planned, Lohrum explained.
“There’s an extensive amount of retention on this site, but there’s a reason for that,” he said. “We were also tasked with helping to eliminate some of the drainage issues on Clara and Howry that you currently have.”
The station will sit fairly close on the site to Howry Avenue, in a move designed to mirror the historic buildings of Downtown DeLand, which largely sit close to the street.
When responding to a call, units will leave the station on Howry Avenue, and return via Clara Avenue. A separate driveway for civilian vehicles and members of the public will be farther west on Howry.
In its design, the station will be made to look somewhat historic, with large portions of the exterior walls covered in faux brick and stucco.
Behind the station, the vehicle-storage building will allow for four more vehicles to be safely stored, like DeLand’s historic firetruck, which is used only on special occasions.
In all, the cost of the new fire station and vehicle storage building are estimated at $4.866 million, including impact and permitting fees, tree mitigation, site work and engineering expenses.
The new 4,300-square-foot police evidence building, meanwhile, comes in at an estimated $989,000.
The new evidence building will come as a pleasure to many in the DeLand Police Department, which is strapped for storage space and has experienced air-quality issues in its current evidence-storage room.
To save on cost, Lohrum said, a square, prefabricated metal building is proposed.
The evidence-storage building will include three bays for storing seized vehicles, two bays for vehicle processing, a bike-storage facility, an evidence-processing lab, and more general short- and long-term storage space.
The plans presented Sept. 10 weren’t final; rather, they represent an initial concept of what the facilities could look like.
DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar raised concerns about how the new fire station in particular would fit into the residential neighborhood, and he expressed his desire for the new structures to serve as a sort of transition.
“My vision was that we would keep a balance between tying into the historic side, but yet also being cognizant of the neighborhood, and we’d kind of create a transition between the Downtown public space and the residential neighborhoods,” he said.
City Manager Michael Pleus said if all goes as planned, the new fire station could be ready for use by the beginning of 2021.
“You’re talking at least a few more months before [the architect] finishes design, bidding around January, award of bid in February, and about eight more months of construction after that,” Pleus said.
The current fire station site is slated to be turned into additional parking.
In related news, the DeLand City Commission also voted to spend $47,224 on a study of the DeLand Fire Department’s emergency-medical-service programs.
The study will examine whether upgrading the agency’s capabilities from basic life support to advanced life support would be worthwhile, the benefits and drawbacks of transporting ALS patients to hospitals, and the possible benefits and drawbacks of establishing a “non-emergent mobile integrated healthcare program” for the elderly and transient populations.
The DeLand Fire Department responds to more than 6,000 EMS calls per year, accounting for about 77 percent of its call volume.