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Construction issues slowing fire station completion

Thu., Sept. 27, 2012

Spokane Valley Fire Department Deputy Chief Larry Rider told fire commissioners during Monday’s meeting that things are not going as planned with the construction of Station 6, 6306 E. Sprague Ave.

The project has been beset with problems since the beginning, and two new ones have cropped up that will delay the project further.

“We’re behind schedule and we’re probably going to be over budget,” Rider said. “We’re having design problems down there.”

Rider stressed that he has no problem with the work of the general contractor, BN Builders. In fact, it is the contractor that has spotted many of the problems, he said. Rider said some of the issues can be traced to plans put together by the architect. “This is his first project with us,” Rider said.

The first thing to go wrong was the swale drainage pipes that were designed to drain uphill, which is impossible. “It was found by someone and then the corrections start,” Rider said. There were also problems figuring out the correct dimensions needed for the roofing panels, which delayed the project.

A structural beam is in the way of the system needed to raise and lower the truck bay doors. The most recent error, discovered Friday by the contractor, is an incorrect truck bay floor drainage system. The drain, which is 50 feet long, is supposed to be centered in the floor. The floor itself is supposed to be made of six slabs that can move independently. It is the same system in place in the Greenacres Station and Rider said the plans and specifications for the system were given to the architect.

However, the drains in Station 6 are offset and surrounded by expansion joints, which can deteriorate over time and allow water to leak under the concrete. That can eventually lead to erosion that creates voids under a floor that has to support heavy trucks, Rider said.

“You had to use a spatula to scrape me off the ceiling when I heard that,” Rider said. “Our floors are big to us.”

“As I hear you, we have no issue with the builder,” said Commissioner Joe Dawson.

The contractor is the one who spotted the problem, Rider said. “He could have just put it in,” he said. “He had questions about stability as well. BN Builders is doing a great job.”

Pouring the concrete floor has been halted while the drainage system is fixed, Rider said. But that starts a chain reaction that could create huge problems. The doors can’t be installed until the concrete is poured. The asphalt in the parking lot can’t be put in until the concrete is poured. And if the weather turns cold and the asphalt can’t be put in, it will be a deal killer. “You don’t get asphalt, we don’t move in,” Rider said. “We can’t let the paving fail because then it stops the project.”

The original schedule called for the station to be finished around mid-October. The roofing issue pushed the date to mid-November. “I would say now, Thanksgiving would be nice,” Rider said.

“I can detect a little bit of frustration,” said Commissioner Monte Nesbitt.

Rider said he estimates the project is at least $50,000 over budget. “This has been an easy job that turned difficult,” he said. “October is next week. It’s crisis time. We’ve managed through a lot of problems already. They just keep popping up.”

The commissioners were supportive of Rider’s efforts to work through the problems and agreed that the money must be spent to fix it. “We have to get it right, that’s for sure,” said Commissioner Bill Anderson.

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