Three firms in running for fire-station contract

A fresh approach to public contracting used for Canal Winchester’s public-service building a few years ago is being used now by Madison Township for its new fire station on Noe Bixby Road in Blacklick Estates.

The project, estimated to cost about $3.5 million for a facility of about 11,000 square feet, will be constructed using a “design build” process instead of a traditional “bid build” process. A committee interviewed three firms Sept. 9 in preparation for making a recommendation to township trustees later this month.

Five companies submitted packages for the design build process, and the township selected three for interviews: Schueler Group from Lebanon, Ohio; Robertson Construction in Licking County; and Turner Construction, headquartered in New York with offices throughout the United States, including one in Columbus.

Trustee Victor Paini was involved in the Canal Winchester project, where he served on a charter review committee and now as a trustee in Madison Township.

“(Canal Winchester) had done several bid build projects, and sometimes the timing was a little longer than we had hoped, or there would be requirements that were a little too strict from the state or some other government agency,” Paini said.

“The other thing was the change process could be costly. If you got past a certain point and needed a change, that could have a serious impact on the bottom line.

“In the design bujild process, it gives you a little more flexibility without some of the zingers in the change control process.”

Under the traditional approach, a design firm prepares a detailed specification that is then put out for public bid, under a comparatively rigid bid process. Under the design build process, that process is relaxed, allowing the design specifications to offer a range of options, such as for lighting and other infrastructure.

“They will say, here is a range of lighting fixtures, you tell us what you want; here is a range of plumbing fixtures, you tell us what you want,” Fire Chief Robert Bates said. “In the standard process, what we call bid build, we would hire an architect as a separate entity as a professional contract, which is not bid under state law.

“If you vary from that (design) at all, it generates a change order, and there are costs with the change order,” he said. “The idea of design build is, you’re giving everybody a little flexibility to save money.”

Bates said the property at 3232 Noe Bixby Road, where Station 183 will be built, was once occupied by a derelict apartment building that was torn down as part of Franklin County’s land bank program. An existing parking lot was preserved, and will be used as part of the new fire station.

“We’re going to do everything we can to bring the project under budget,” Bates said. “The preliminary estimate from the criteria architect was sometime in the first quarter of 2018 (for the grand opening). We’ll have a better idea after we do the interviews with the design build firms.”

Fire Station 183 will be the third maintained by Madison Township. Each has five or six firefighters and EMS staff during any given shift, Bates said.

So far this year, the fire department has responded to about 3,150 EMS incidents and 657 fire reports, he said. During a typical year, Bates said, the township responds to about 20 “working fires,” where actual flames are engaged.


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