New fire station was decades in the making |

New fire station was decades in the making

Lauren Glendenning
Vail, CO Colorado
NWS W. Vail fire 1 KA 2-15-11

VAIL, Colorado – The new $5.3 million, 15,500-square-foot West Vail Fire Station is on track to be completed by the end of March, and Vail Fire Chief Mark Miller expects the building to achieve the second-highest level of LEED-certified green building standards.

Miller gave the Vail Town Council a tour of the new fire station Tuesday afternoon, showing members the building that their predecessors on the Town Council had talked about for the last 30 years.

When the town of Vail annexed West Vail for the second time – a lawsuit the first time around caused a de-annexation – the town voted for a resolution stating they would build a new fire station in West Vail, Mayor Dick Cleveland remembers.

Talks about building the station actually date back to 1968, Vail Deputy Chief Mike McGee told the Vail Daily last spring. He said that by the early 1970s a master plan that studied Vail fire service mentioned that eventually a West Vail fire station would be required to meet service needs.

Timing, money and other priorities along the way meant the new station would wait until 2009 before receiving town approval, even though calls to West Vail have been double the numbers of calls to East Vail, which has its own fire station, since about 1986, McGee said.

And Miller has made sure that the station not only remains within the $5.3 million budget, but that every possible inch of space is utilized.

A new training room at the station is already booked for the next 17 weeks straight for a fire academy and police training. The space is exciting for Miller because it’s the first dedicated place the department will have for training outside of a truck room.

“We’re thrilled about this,” Miller said. “Meeting space is pretty short (in the town).”

Miller said the new station makes use out of every opportunity for firefighter training, from confined space training to ladder rescue to repelling.

The new station will also house all of the town’s 12 resident firefighters in small, dorm room-like living quarters. Miller said response times will be cut by about 4 minutes to what he calls Vail’s most vulnerable neighborhood.

Tuesday’s tour marked a special moment for Miller, who said he’s lost many nights of sleep over the new station.

The site, which was once home to a Wendy’s fast food restaurant, presented many unforeseen challenges, he said.

“The site really kicked us in the rear end, big time,” Miller said.

When the site was excavated, construction crews drove a truck over it and the soil just rolled because of about 20 feet of water underneath the ground. They had to reinforce it and add good soil throughout the entire site.

“And the retaining wall was a challenge because soils didn’t hold like we expected them to, so they had to go in with soil nails to keep the wall up,” Miller said.

The retaining wall is the only part of the project that won’t be finished by the end of March because construction costs during the winter months were just too high, Miller said.

“The good news is we are within budget,” Miller said. “But barely.”

Adam Williams, the project manager, said the project employed about 60 percent of the work to local subcontractors.

A community celebration and the new fire station is expected to be held in mid-June.

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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