‘Serious Contractual Dispute’ over Fire Station construction delaying opening
Construction of the new headquarters station for the Burien/Normandy Park Fire Department – King County Fire District No. 2 – got underway in late summer 2011.
Completion and occupancy were anticipated for midsummer 2012.
But – two years after ground was broken, this state-of-the-art building at 900 SW 146th Street stands vacant.
It still isn’t operational and will likely remain unoccupied for at least another six months, say fire district officials, while several structural problems resulting from work done by the general contractor, Bayley Construction of Mercer Island and some subcontractors, are fixed.
The delay is frustrating for the firefighters and medics who are ready to move from their outdated and undersized facility at the corner of SW 151st St. and 8th Ave. S. “We’re eager to move in,” Fire District No. 2 Chief Mike Marrs said earlier this year.
In an interview with The B-Town Blog last week, he described the current situation involving major construction glitches as “a serious contractual dispute with the contractor.
But, Marrs noted, “there seems to have been substantial movement on two of the big items” at a July 12 meeting between fire district officials and Bayley Construction representatives – the five large doors to the fire engine bay and the station roof.
The Bay Doors
Marrs said they “thought we had a fix for the bay doors. They were going to shim the doors to up to 7/8 of an inch, but it turned out it didn’t work” on the first door.
After tweaking things, “a different approach seems to work and we’re going to tell them [July 19] that simple fix is acceptable for shimming and to continue with the rest of the doors.
As for the roof, “the subcontractor has made repairs and it appears they did all the work we asked. Our roof expert has been on vacation but he’ll be back and look at it [this] week.”
Even if the roof repairs were done right and shimming the bay doors works, lots of corrective work remains to be done – and that’s what will cause the extended delay before the new Fire Station 28 is ready for occupancy.
Marrs said rebar is exposed in a lot of precast building components – cornice pieces at the top of the building, a waist-high “belly band” that goes around the outside of the station, and lintel pieces above the windows.
Replacing them will be “very labor intensive and very slow,” Marrs continued. “Well over 500 individual pieces will have to be recast. It’s quite a process.
“They’ll have to cut out the individual pieces at the grout joint, shore the surrounding wall, then slide in new pieces, glide out the shoring, and regrout.
“The other solution is to tear down the brick veneer down to the belly band and replace it all,” he added. “With both methods there are pros and cons. There isn’t a perfect method to doing this. We’re going to notify the contractor’s bonding company and see if they have a preference.”
The Big Concern
As for the contractor’s role in getting everything right, “Bayley is seeming to be more responsive to some of the smaller issues,” Marrs said.
A lawsuit “is still the last resort. We’re hopeful that we can rectify all this with the surety company.
“Our big concern is that ultimately the fire district and the taxpayers won’t be impacted by this, and that we have a high confidence level that the building is sound and that once we move in we won’t be impacted in our operations.”
New South Burien Station
The good news for Fire District 2 is that construction of its new fire station in the Manhattan area “is going swimmingly well,” Marrs said. “We should be moving in by late August or early September.”
Construction on the new facility at 135 S. Normandy Road – just off 1st Ave. S. east of the Manhattan Village QFC – started last summer, just one month later than first anticipated. General contractor is Neeley Construction of Puyallup.
“There have been few issues” to date,” Marrs noted. “No big issues that would hold up this project.”
The two-story, 18,850 square-foot building has three vehicle bays, a maintenance bay, a training classroom, and sleep rooms for six firefighters, plus an emergency generator and fuel pump.
The old station, which has remained in use during construction, will be demolished when new Station 29 is occupied and replaced with an 18-stall parking area and a storm water runoff retention pond.
Voters in Fire District No. 2 approved in November 2008 a $25 million bond issue for construction of the new headquarters fire station in Burien and replacement of Station 29.