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WMFR plans Station 2 remodel

By Kathy Prucnell, Islander Reporter

West Manatee Fire Rescue firefighters Ben Dillion and Tim Pierce stand outside Station 2, 10350 Cortez Road, Cortez, originally built as a two-man engine company with an all-volunteer crew in 1987. Station 2 is expected to undergo approximately $900,000 in improvements this year.

West Manatee Fire Rescue Station 2 was built in 1987 as an all-volunteer station in the days when neighbors helped neighbors, and the firefighters who gave freely of their time lived in the district.

         The times, of course, have changed. WMFR has transitioned to a full-time force of 33 officers and firefighters, as well as 30 reservists, who work, train and sleep alternately alongside firefighters, according to WMFR Chief Andy Price. The district’s three stations also house Emergency Management Service personnel. And WMFR has an administrative staff of 10.

        Addressing some of the changing needs — which began several years ago with a districtwide facilities report recommending renovations on the district’s four buildings, including its administrative offices  — WMFR is preparing now to remodel Station 2, 10350 Cortez Road, Cortez.

        Plans for Station 2, which is equipped with make-shift living quarters for six, include updates and repairs.

        At the end of March, Price said five “design-build” teams submitted to the district proposals, including the team’s credentials, capabilities, subcontractors and lists of current and past projects.

        The interested teams are:

        • Manasota Commercial Construction Co. Inc. and World Design Inc., both of Bradenton.

        ∙ Steve Solomon of Bradenton and Ritter, Migga & Associates, P.A., of Sarasota.

        ∙ Zirkelbach Construction Inc. of Palmetto and Klar and Klar Architects Inc. of Clearwater.

        ∙ The A.D. Morgan Corp. of Bradenton and BMK Architects Inc. of Sarasota.

        ∙ Ross Built Construction Co. of Holmes Beach and Manuel Synalovski Associates of Fort Lauderdale.

        WMFR commissioners will select the team for the project following recommendations from a citizen’s committee, Price said.

        The committee comprises former Anna Maria Mayor Fran Barford; the Rev. Rosemary Backer of Gloria Dei Lutheran Church; Kerry Ward of Wells Fargo Bank and a member of the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority; and WMFR Commissioner Scott Ricci. They are expected to meet next week to commence interviewing the teams.

         The survey — known as the Totems Architectural Feasibility Study —recommended $900,000 in improvements to Station 2, according to Price. Anticipating the project, the WMFR budgeted $887,542 for facilities this year.

        The chosen design-build team will be asked to propose structural changes to the firefighters’ living quarters. Still undecided is whether to build a second story or expand the ground-level structure. Price also expects the team to receive input from the station’s firefighters.

        Implemented already from the Totem’s study have been $500,000 in renovation work at the administrative offices, 5217 Third Ave. W., Bradenton, completed in 2011, and a remodel at Station 1, 6001 Marina Drive, Holmes Beach, recently completed. The Holmes Beach station cost $307,000.

        Repairs and renovation work for Station 2 is expected to be more extensive than Station 1, Price said.

        On both prior projects, he added, WMFR contracted with Ross Built.

        “We’ve been pleasantly surprised with how the projects have come in consistently under budget,” Price said. “But we’ve learned some things along the way.”

        Contractors had to work around firefighters at Station 1 during the remodeling, causing staff and scheduling challenges, he said.

        For the upcoming Station 2 project, Price said, “we’ll definitely move the guys —possibly to a portable building on site.”

        The last of the station’s renovations will be a $2-2.5 million new building at Station 4, 407 67th St., Bradenton. That project is expected to begin sometime in late 2013.

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