Renovations at China Grove fire station
By Shavonne Potts
CHINA GROVE — The town is in the early stages of phase II of its renovation/construction project for its fire station at North Main Street.
If you rode past the station in recent weeks then you probably saw the construction taking place.
The construction to the building began earlier this month and is expected to be complete by next summer.
Work on the two-fold project is beginning on the side of the building that once housed the China Grove Police Department, which has now moved to its permanent location at Swink Street.
The exterior walls have been removed, revealing the existing support beams and frame.
It was more economical to use the existing shell said Interim Town Manager Ken Deal.
When construction is done, the fire department will share a space with town hall.
The building was cited in a report several years ago as being noncompliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. In addition, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited in a report that the building was not code compliant for sleeping facilities in the vehicle bay. The fire separation and ventilation system were cited as serious deficiencies.
The fire department also has a problem because firefighters have to stop traffic to back the truck into the station. In the new plans, firefighters will be able to pull around to the back of the building and pull into the station.
The new department location at Swink Street was erected in 1976 as the town municipal building.
Two rooms at that time served as the entire police department, which employed a chief, supervisor and two officers, according to current Chief Eddie Kluttz.
Kluttz has moved back into the original office of Richard Overcash, who was chief of police and the man who hired Kluttz in 1979 as a patrol officer.
The new police station underwent a few renovations/ improvements and was painted, but much of the structure was left as it was when it held town hall, Kluttz said.
One of the first noticeable differences is a keyless entrance for officers at the back of the station.
Another change was to what was once council chambers. It now holds a patrol room for officers. Each officer has a desk with laptop computer for network operations.
Also, two offices are for department sergeants. The board used to sit on a raised platform that Kluttz said was more economical to build upon than tear down.
Crews remodeled the old vault that will be used for evidence and a property control area, he said.
Also included in the plans were a video-monitoring system that encompasses a “live feed” to monitor, document, and record interviews, interrogations and meetings.
A wireless system will be installed later this month, Kluttz said.
“Wireless technology will be used for officers in the field to pull into the parking lot at the facility and transmit their citations and reports directly into the Records Management System,” he said.
The wireless technology will eliminate the need for officers returning to the office to manually enter reports. This should increase their interaction with the public, Kluttz added.
A communications center for all networks with the town has also been constructed. The center is housed in a room at the police station and will be used for networking phones. An Internet system has been installed to control electronic messaging for the Street and Maintenance Department, Fire Department, Town Hall and the law enforcement facility.
A new alarm system and an employee breakroom were included in the plans.
Before any of the renovations could begin, the town had to obtain interim financing. The short-term loan came from RBC Bank in Hickory and was approved in February by the board.
A USDA loan approved in March 2010 takes effect after construction.
Also in February, the staff at town hall moved from its location at 205 Swink St. to its temporary location at the former Rowan Medical Mall, 308 E. Centerview St.
It was also in February that the board chose Momentum Construction in Charlotte as the low bidder.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.