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Sandy Journal

Construction for Fire Station 31 officially underway with groundbreaking

Jun 04, 2024 02:27PM ● By Rebecca Olds

Sandy District 31 firefighters attend the groundbreaking on April 23 for the new fire station. (Courtesy Sandy City)

Originally built in 1985 and showing its age with its leaking pipes and lack of wiggle room, the current Fire Station 31 (9010 S. 150 East) is not built to withstand the future growth of the area. A new station has been in the works for years as firefighters have worked with local government officials to design the new space. On April 23, the groundbreaking for the station, which will be located at 9295 S. 255 West, was a big milestone that made the plans start to take shape in reality.

“We could have filled the RSL Soccer Stadium to capacity with the amount of enthusiasm that is mounting in our city for this groundbreaking today,” Sandy Mayor Monica Zoltanski said at the groundbreaking. 

With the wait coming to an end, Mayor Zoltanski, Interim Fire Chief Ryan McConaghie, members of the city council and more, put their hovels in the dirt on April 23, and broke ground for the new Fire Station 31 after three distinct rings of the fire bell, installed in every Sandy fire station three years ago. 

“That’s going with the tradition of ringing the bell. It reminds us why we do what we do,” Chief McConaghie said, who has worked with the Sandy Fire Department for 23 years. 

Sandy’s Fire District 31 is the busiest of the city’s five fire districts as it houses the heart of the city’s sports, business, commerce and affordable housing in the rapidly developing area known as the Cairns. As the Cairns grow, the fire station is fit to grow with it. Zoltanski called it “future proof.”

New upgrades benefit residents

McConaghie named “people, product and purpose” as what drove the idea of “future proofing” the new fire station.

The “people” that McConaghie said the new station would serve were both the firefighters and residents of the city.

Heber Slabbert, principal partner and architect at AJC on the project, said the new station was designed to drastically reduce the response time for firefighters to respond to calls. 

“My life was saved by first responders who did 14 minutes of CPR, saving my life,” Slabbert said. “Response times are critical.”

To further serve the community and expand the public fire education program the department already does, the station will include two large spaces for classes and training to be held.

New upgrades benefit firefighters

Safeguards to protect firefighters include a distinct divide between the entry point where firefighters return after responding to a call and where the living space is. 

“We respond to fires and with the fires you have the carcinogens,” McConaghie said. “That stuff kind of becomes impregnated into the gear and the uniforms and has a potential of being dragged through the station causing cross contamination.”

Decontamination showers and new heating and air conditioning systems will not flow into the living space, but rather out of it to prevent any contaminants in the bay from entering the living space.

“That's the kind of concept and technology that we're integrating into modern day fire station building,” McConaghie said. 

To offer another layer of protection for firefighters’ mental health, the new station’s bedrooms were designed to completely black out to get them quality sleep no matter what time of day, Slabbert said. The rest of the station will feature lots of natural light that studies have found is good for mental health as well as an increased office space for productivity.

Taxpayer dollars at work

Since she became mayor in 2022, Zoltanksi said the city had a long list of needs and a new fire station was at the top. But the city “struggled and struggled with how we were going to afford to pay for such an important facility that’s going to usher in this new era of growth and development.”

“To be standing here in just two years and a couple months later…with a fully formed plan, funding and a clear pathway forward. Wow, the pace has been sweeping,” Zoltanski said during the groundbreaking.

A previous tax increase of close to 30% paid for the ability to hire more firefighters since Zoltanski became mayor and “residents paid” to build the new fire station, she said. She highlighted that the increase was supported by 67%, or two-thirds of residents and thanked the public for their contribution to making this needed facility a reality.

Additionally with these funds, three firefighters are going out with every call now rather than two, “no exceptions,” she said. 

“This is not just about the firefighters, it’s about all of us working together,” Zoltanski said, referring to residents, the police department, and various businesses and community partnerships attending the groundbreaking.

A permanent home for the history and the future of Sandy

As the extra cherry on top, McConaghie announced that the Sandy Fire Department’s first-ever fire truck, a model A from 1929, will be on permanent display in the front entry way of the new station as an ode to the department’s history and growth in the city. 

The new station was built “with the future in mind,” Zoltanski said, referring to the larger space to accommodate future growth within the fire department as the city continues to expand. 

“​​It's not a shell that we can barely fit into as it's finished, it still gives us room to grow into the future,” McConaghie said. 

Fire Station 31 is expected to take 14 months to complete, putting the anticipated completion date in late summer 2025. λ