New Station 5 bay: built for more than bowling balls

       Bowling balls aren't that heavy. Neither were the commercial trucks or even the fire engines of the early 20th century. But then came modern fire vehicles weighing thousands of pounds, a continued accumulation of moisture, perhaps a fire once in the basement below… and so it is that, at least for now, Fire Station 5, is without a concrete floor in its original east engine bay facing onto Colorado Avenue. Standing in the basement of Fire Station 5, with the Colorado Avenue sidewalk above them, workers with CMS 
Construction consider the next step of the project to replace an engine bay’s failing concrete slab.
Westside Pioneer photo
       In fact, people passing by recently when the door was partially open could actually see down into the basement, with its brick walls and stone foundations.
       The two-story, 7,200-square-foot building at 2830 W. Colorado Ave. had first been constructed as a social club for Standard Gold Mill workers in about 1900, not becoming a fire station until 1921.
       Unlike its engine bay to the west, which was installed in 1984, according to Ray Turner of the Colorado Springs Fire Museum, the 15-by-50-foot east bay dates back to the station's beginnings.
       “It was reported that the building… was originally a bowling alley,” reads a report prepared by MGA Structural Engineers for the Colorado Springs Fire Department. “Floors of that time period were not typically designed for the loading capacity required by modern firefighting equipment.” The report also talks about moisture causing corrision to a “steel member lintel under the south exterior wall and the southeast corner of the concrete floor slab” and “potential fire damage” (date unknown) beneath the slab - such could “cause the concrete and steel in the slab to expand and contract severely, causing damage through cracking and spalling of the concrete.”
       Crews with CMS Construction have been working on the project, which will cost $90,000 (including the engineering study). Plans call for a new slab to be poured Feb. 26. After about a month to let the concrete “cure,” the east bay will reopen, according to Bob Lund, Fire Department facilities manager. The new slab will “allow the full length of the bay for unrestricted use by all firefighting vehicles and equipment,” as stated in the engineers' recommendation.
       The concrete work is occurring at the same time as a long-planned project to improve Station 5 ventilation and to control a longstanding problem of water runoff leaking in from the sidewalk along 29th Street, Lund said.
       The station's service has not been impeded by the work. The brush truck, which is usually parked in the east bay, is temporarily being parked in a space inside the building off 29th Street which has a garage-style door but in recent times has not been used for fire vehicles, he noted.
       During an informal discussion, Station 5 firefighters indicated they were more surprised than alarmed at hearing about the old floor's deterioration. The slab had never actually given way under a truck - it was just a crack in the floor that led to the engineering study last October - and demolition crews actually had a hard time time removing the old slab, it was pointed out.

Westside Pioneer article