City officials tour new public safety headquarters
by Jason Lowrey
Jul 18, 2012 | 2627 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Cartersville Fire Chief Scott Carter leads guests on a tour of the city’s new public safety building in the fire truck bay area.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Cartersville Fire Chief Scott Carter leads guests on a tour of the city’s new public safety building in the fire truck bay area. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
Chief of Police Thomas Culpepper talks about the security measures in the new public safety building that will house the police and fire departments.  
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Chief of Police Thomas Culpepper talks about the security measures in the new public safety building that will house the police and fire departments. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
Guests gather outside the new public safety building before being taken on a tour. The building is scheduled to open in November. 
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Guests gather outside the new public safety building before being taken on a tour. The building is scheduled to open in November. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
slideshow
Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini, City Manager Sam Grove and members of the city council were given their first look at the new public safety building on Cassville Road Tuesday afternoon. Fire Chief Scott Carter and Police Chief Thomas Culpepper led the group through the building, explaining how half-finished rooms of sheetrock and steel will become the new 50-year home of the two departments.

The new headquarters is split in half between the fire department, on the left, and the police department, on the right. When visitors walk into the lobby there will be a main reception area across from the door and two smaller reception areas off on the sides for each department. There also will be a permanent display on the fire department's side.

"[In] this area we're going to have a historic display with the 1918 fire truck and fire gear sitting here, and the original fire pole from the original fire station downtown will be brought over to this station," Carter said.

The building's ground floor is dedicated to both departments' emergency services. The fire department's section has a more open floor plan, with almost every room having a doorway leading to the next room. That will allow firemen faster access to their equipment and vehicles in the event of an emergency, as it funnels them toward the equipment bay.

The equipment bay itself can house up to six vehicles and features a diesel exhaust system built into the ceiling. That equipment makes it safer for firemen to run their vehicles and, Carter said, it also will extend the life of the building.

"Everything meets or exceeds the National Fire Protection Association standards," Carter said on the station's design. "What we actually try to do is take the designs from our other stations, and we researched this project for several years. We took some of the best components from across the nation and tried to incorporate them here into this building."

The fire department will use their section as an administration building and a station. For the police, it will be their main headquarters. With that in mind, the police section is designed to protect employees, policemen and the public. Any door leading into the police section is a secure door that requires a passcode to get in or out. Certain panes of glass in the reception area will be bullet resistant, and unspecified sections of the walls will also be bullet resistant.

Culpepper said the police department's focus was to make their work as efficient as possible within the building. The evidence locker will only work in one direction, as officers will pass their evidence through one of five different-sized doors leading to the evidence room. For example, handguns will pass through a particular door set into the wall while a blood sample will pass through a door leading to a refrigerated area. Only the employee within the room will be able to remove evidence, which, Culpepper said, will ensure custody of the evidence.

Warrant computers, interview rooms and processing areas are also grouped together to maximize the officers' time.

"We will also have the electronic warrant system in here so that it's centrally located towards the arrest area, the booking area, the evidence area and the report area. [It's] all located together for less foot traffic for the officer to have to go from one to the other. Kind of like it's an arrest pod here. Everything is right here," Culpepper said.

The building's upper level is split as well. The fire department designed small living quarters for every fireman in the building, as they spend a great deal of time on the job. There also is a large breakroom leading to a kitchen that can support the entire building in case there is an emergency. Carter added that the firemen are working on building a large table with the letters "CFD" on the top.

The upper police section is more open than its lower level, with cubicles and large windows allowing greater communication between the various divisions.

"Internal communication will kill us if we don't talk to each other," Culpepper said when explaining the need for cubicles.

Jim Croft, president of Croft & Associates, the architectural firm for the project, said the greatest challenge in designing the building was catering to the needs of two departments that have two different purposes.

"Because this is a complicated building from a design standpoint. ... You have two departments using the building really in two different ways and so there's a lot of complexity here. But because the chiefs knew what they needed and what they were looking for ... we have a successful design," he said.

Dave Buser, the project director, also said the chiefs were heavily involved with the project.

"They didn't just read some Quicknotes to take you on this tour," he told the city officials. "They know this project better than I do, and I'm the project director."

While a specific opening date for the headquarters has not been set, Carter expected it to be open sometime in November. The two chiefs decided to hold a tour now, even though the building is not finished, to let city officials see the progress.

"We just felt that we were at the point to where we could safely bring everybody in and just let everybody see where we're at," Carter said.