New CBFPD fire station design getting close to completion

Safety campus construction to begin this year and be done by 2026

By Mark Reaman

Preparation for the new Crested Butte Fire Protection District (CBFPD) safety campus just north of the Crested Butte town boundary along Gothic Road is nearing completion and the initial physical work should start this spring. According to CBFPD chief executive officer Sean Caffrey, earthwork, underground utilities, grading and foundation work should start this year. “If weather permits the framing may also begin,” he said.

The plan calls for a 22,500-square-foot fire station headquarters along with a 6,000-square-foot search-and-rescue building to be placed on the seven acre site located near the Crested Butte cemetery. Water is being obtained through a well that will also supply a 25,000-gallon water storage tank. The stored water will serve the dual purpose of providing on-site fire protection water for the fire suppression (in-building sprinkler) systems and will also be available to fill the fire trucks if the district needs water for a nearby fire. 

Wastewater is planned to be handled by the town, but Caffrey said that process has experienced a slight delay. “We’ve had a bit of a hold-up on the sewer connection process as we owe the Town of CB an engineering report that has been delayed a bit with our civil engineers,” he explained. “I’m told we’ll have that soon and can then work out the remaining details with the Town which includes an intergovernmental agreement, design approvals, tap fees, etc. Nothing has really changed there, it is just moving slower than we’d hoped.”

Caffrey said the zoning for the buildings was approved by Gunnison County last May. The district anticipates filing for the building permits sometime in February. “We hope to break ground as weather allows in the spring,” he said. “FCI Constructors of Grand Junction will be the general contractor. They have brought on the first wave of subcontractors. We will bring on the remaining subcontractors beginning in March. Currently, earthwork, elevator, steel and electrical and mechanical contractors are on board due to those items being long lead time or high coordination items. FCI has been managing the subcontractor bids.”

The district has spent about $3 million of the $29 million brought in by a bond approved by voters for the project in 2021. That money has gone toward purchasing the property, design work and various testing on the site. The remaining portion of the project is estimated to be about $24 million and Caffrey said $11 million in contracts have been awarded at this point. 

“Of particular note is we spent a decent amount of money, about $30,000, evaluating the possibility of geothermal heating and cooling,” Caffrey said. “While the site is conducive, we won’t have the additional $2.5 million that would be needed to drill about 35 holes and provide the ground loops. As such, we will be going with a high efficiency variable-refrigerant flow (VRF) air-source heat pump as the primary heating and cooling source. That is an electric system. We are also planning on installing about 21kW of solar panels on the search-and-rescue building and hopefully another 24kW of solar panels on the fire station headquarters.”

The campus site is about 7.3 acres and encompasses both sides of the Slate River. It includes the entire parcel previously owned by the Spann ranching family, from whom the district purchased the property after failing to reach an agreement with the town for free land in the newly annexed Slate River subdivision.

“We have been focusing our efforts on about 2.5 acres adjacent to Gothic Road as the building site,” Caffrey said. “Approximately three acres is on the far side (east) of the river. We have no plans to sell any portion of the property at this time. That may make some sense in the future; however, we really want to get the project built and understand how the buildings relate to the site before we make any decisions on that. The east side of the river mostly adjoins the cemetery and perhaps one acre over there is developable by the entrance. That being said, it will likely remain open space for the foreseeable future.”

On an artistic note, Caffrey said the district plans to honor the ranching history of the location as part of the project. “The community may have noticed we removed the historic wooden cattle loader that was on the site. Unfortunately, most of the wood was not suitable for re-use, however, we were pleased to commission local artist Shawn Horne to paint the cattle loader last fall before we dismantled it,” he explained. “We will be excited to display that painting in the lobby when the time comes. In the meantime, the painting is on display at the Mt. CB fire station. We hope to get enough reclaimed wood from the cattle loader for an accent wall.”

Caffrey also said the district has purchased two housing lots from Gunnison County located in the Larkspur subdivision. The district will use those lots for off-site workforce housing.

Caffrey said the expectation is that the campus buildings will be completed and ready to occupy by late 2025 or early 2026.

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