Fire station OK’d

KAPA‘A -— The Kaua‘i County Planning Commission yesterday approved permits for a new fire station in Kapa‘a — opening the way for increased fire protection in the Kawaihau District.

The district is the largest population area on the island, and what is considered a mostly middle-class neighborhood is likely to get bigger as time goes by.

The approval, made during a morning session of the commission at the Lihu‘e Civic Center, allows for the construction of a new fire station about 1,400 feet north of the Kapa‘a Jehovah Witness Facility, mauka of Kuhio Highway.

Fire Chief Robert Westerman, who attended the meeting, said the work could start in a year and that delays are tied to the development of engineering design plans to make the structure “environmentally friendly” and energy self-sufficient, construction bidding and securing government permits.

The project will be funded through a $5 million bond float approved by the county last year.

With approval of a use permit and a Class IV zoning permit, the new fire station will be placed on a 50,000-square-foot lot that was the site for a wastewater treatment plant that once served Mahelona Medical Center, Kapa‘a elementary, middle and high schools and a project for low-income and elderly residents.

The single-story 6,600-square-foot fire station will feature three bays for fire trucks, a kitchen and lounge, sleeping areas, an office, locker room, exercise room, a compartment for a generator, a laundry and storage room and additional spaces.

The architectural design of the concrete structure will be similar to that of the Koloa fire station, the last fire station built.

As with six other fire stations, the new fire station will be designed to handle structure and wildland fires and respond to emergency medical care and rescue calls.

The new facility will be home to 15 firefighters working staggered shifts.

Fire officials said the department’s long-range plans called for a second fire station to support the existing Kapa‘a station, according to county documents.

Westerman said that fire station will continue to operate until another fire station can be built in Wailua Homesteads.

Westerman said if he had his way, he would like to “see the work start tomorrow,” as the additional service will enhance his department’s firefighting and emergency response ability.

Work on the second fire station could start in two years, but finding funding and obtaining government permits may cause more delays.

‘The funding will have to be found somewhere,” Westerman said after the meeting.

• Lester Chang, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or lchang@kauaipubco.com.

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