Construction of the southern fire station is underway on County Road 10 after a variety of setbacks paused progress.

Construction on the southern fire station is underway once again, this time with a new building contractor.

The Board of County Commissioners signed a contract with L.M. Kersting, a Buena Vista-based construction company, last fall to finish erecting the steel frame of the station on County Road 10, which began under a different contractor in summer 2019. Commissioner Kayla Marcella said the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) is currently working with architectural firm Hord Coplan Macht to design the remainder of the station and submit the plans for review. 

Peak 360 Services & Homecrafters, the original contractor for the project, failed to respond to an audit of the project’s financial state, causing the BOCC to terminate its agreement with the contractor in 2019. The board has since filed a claim against the project’s performance bond. 

The southern fire station’s construction was then further delayed by complications related to the COVID-19 pandemic, setting the project back another year.

Marcella said the southern station is set to be completed by the end of 2021. Once finished, the building will run entirely on electric power through Xcel Energy. The project assumed no extra cost for running electricity to the site. 

Although design details are still being developed, the station is meant to be multipurpose, meaning emergency response agencies other than Leadville/Lake County Fire-Rescue (LLCFR) may use the facility for emergency response in southern Lake County. The station will also house four residential firefighters. 

The space is intended, in part, to help expand LLCFR’s training program for reserve firefighters. Currently, LLCFR partners with Colorado Mountain College on Fire Academy 1 and 2, educational programs designed to train students in fire fighting. The station will also provide a space for public events on fire education, Marcella added.

The project is expected to cost $1.9 million. About $785,000 has already been raised through county funds earmarked in previous years’ budgets, a Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant and private donations.

The remaining $1.2 million will be split evenly between Lake County Government, the City of Leadville and LLCFR’s fire fund. Each entity is expected to pay about $426,000 after the county fronts the $1.2 million. More than $300,000 has already been spent on the project. The BOCC is unsure whether the county will recuperate funds from Peak 360’s involvement in the project at this time.

The need for a southern fire station was identified years ago in a draft of the city’s comprehensive plan. Projections then alluded to an influx of new development in southern Lake County, where most of the county’s vacant land sits. As structures are built and families move to the area, Marcella said, it is important that LLCFR has the means to extend fire protection to the south. 

The Herald previously reported that the southern fire station will cut LLCFR’s response time to Twin Lakes and southern Lake County by about 20 minutes. The new station will also cover Leadville when LLCFR is responding to incidents north of town. Additionally,  Marcella said the station will be a valuable resource in improving the county’s wildfire preparedness.

“The ability to add continuity in our fire response is important to us,” said Marcella of the project.

LLCFR Fire Chief Dan Dailey could not be reached for comment before the Herald’s publication deadline. 

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