With a population just over 2000 – the largest portion of them retirees – Wakarusa Township is a quiet, unassuming spot in eastern Kansas occupying about 46 square miles of rolling midwestern terrain. Recently, however, there was quite a bit of excitement happening on 31st Street, as the Wakarusa Township Fire Department got a new station with all the bells, whistles and, of course, sirens.
The Wakarusa Township Fire Department relies primarily on volunteers to serve the township along with EMS services to assist with medical emergencies in the surrounding areas within Douglas County. So, when the time arrived to replace fire station #1’s existing building with a new, more modern facility, one of the department’s board members contacted Art Kuehler with the local construction firm HASTCO, Inc., and set the plan in motion.
Kuehler worked in partnership with Lawrence, Kansas-based architectural firm Hernly Associates and together, they created a vision for the new, nearly 14,500-square-foot station: a slate gray custom engineered metal building design featuring a Double-Lok roof system and AVP wall panels from Star Building Systems. A metal building is an ideal choice for a fire station, according to Kuehler, because of the generous height and clean span widths.
Construction of the building was not without its challenges… When the team discovered the lot had a significant slope, their first consideration was to build one side of the building pad up more than 6 feet. However, when they realized that was the same side of the building on which the fire trucks would need to enter the apparatus bays, they shifted their thinking and created an innovative new plan. Instead of filling the lot, according to Art, the team “buried the back of the building in the ground with a five-foot concrete retaining wall”.
HASTCO and Hernly contracted Big Johnson Construction, located in Fort Morgan, Colorado, for the erection of the building. The team chose Star’s 24-gauge Double-Lok Galvalume Plus with R-32 Optiliner insulation for the roof panels and 26-gauge AVP with R-32 Opti-Liner insulation for the wall panels.
Today, the crew at station #1 enjoys a spacious main floor with offices, bunk rooms, a conference room, bathrooms and showers, a dayroom with kitchen and dining, a radio/report room, and nine apparatus bays to house trucks and equipment. A second floor over the office and dayroom will eventually include a classroom, storage, mechanical room, and restrooms. For a creative twist, the team added a set of switchback stairs on the front of the building, then built around them to give the appearance of a tower on the front of the building.
At Star, one of our favorite parts of the job is helping our customers accomplish their design and building challenges. We love seeing innovative concepts like the Wakarusa Fire Station come to life and look forward to helping you dream up – and build – your next big idea!