Harker Heights City Council members and city department directors took a field trip of sorts on Tuesday to the Central Fire Station on Indian Trail to get their first look at the renovated facility.

The tour of the building went on the record as an open, official City Council workshop.

According to Fire Chief Paul Sims, substantial completion is expected during the last week of March.

“We’ll be moving out of our temporary quarters into the brand new building, and we’re ready!” Sims said.

Wearing hard hats, provided by the fire department, the group was led into the new front entrance that is now on the south side of the building as opposed to the Indian Trail side of the old building.

People who visit the department will walk into a lobby and be greeted by a secretary behind a sliding glass window.

The entrance into the administrative area is secure, with the door only being opened by the secretary or other fire department officials. The main entrance will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday.

In answer to a question by Councilman Hal Schiffman, who asked about after-hours operations, Sims said, “The old entrance on Indian Trail will be set up with an entrance and a small lobby where persons who have an emergency or need to get into the building for other reasons can use a phone or door bell that will be set up in the after hours lobby.”

Some of the newer features of the building included added office and storage space, a new training room that will also be used as the Emergency Operation Center (EOC).

The training/EOC room was described as a “hard room.” Sims said,” This room is encased in solid concrete from ceiling to floor and can withstand tornado-force winds. This means that we have a required extra level of protection so we can continue to work in assisting, communicating and providing the services needed in case a serious storm were to strike the city.”

In case of a power outage, emergency generators take over immediately to keep the station operational.

Other features include a separate alarm system for EMS calls and general fire calls.

Deputy Chief Glen Gallenstein said, “When tones go off as the crew is sleeping, lights will come on above their head followed by a steady but gradual increase of the volume of the tone. Studies have shown there are detrimental effects to firefighters when they are jolted awake by an alarm. We’re especially glad to have this feature in the new station.”

A larger area has been added for cooking and eating. A nine- to 12-foot-long dining table will be installed. One of the firemen is building a podium.

Council members and city officials were especially impressed by the new fitness center for firefighters and city employees. The center, on the east side of the building, will start with treadmills, matts and other equipment. The center also is outfitted with showers and restrooms.

Gallenstein said, “When this station opened in 1985, there were no computers in this building. Now, our ambulances have two in each unit and there is one in each truck. The facility is now wired for any expansion we’ll ever need in technology.”

Council members did not take any action during the tour but were all impressed with the new features and expressed their pride in the work done so far. They are looking forward to the completion of the facility.

An open house will be held for the community, but that date is yet to be determined.

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