Bids are expected to go out soon for Effingham County’s planned 911 center.
Forrest Lott of Lott and Barber Architects in Savannah and county Fire and Rescue Chief Val Ashcraft showed off their plans to county commissioners Tuesday afternoon for a 9, 569 square foot building that will house emergency communications.
“It is definitely what everyone is looking for,” Ashcraft said. “This looks like a good way to go.”
The 911 center is being designed to withstand 3-second wind gusts of up to 155 mph.
“That’s much more stringent than the codes,” Lott said.
Building codes call for a wind load of up to 115 mph and county emergency officials wanted a center that could hold up in the most severe storms.
“The instructions from Val and his team were very clear,” Lott said. “There’s a fair amount that deals with the strength of the building and with the redundancy of the systems.”
The estimated cost of the building is $2.35 million and does not cover expenses for equipment, furniture and land acquistion.
Inside, the 911 center will have room for 15 dispatcher stations and a 40-person training room. It also will have an 11-person sleeping quarters in case it has to become an emergency operations center. Currently, there are three 911 dispatchers, and they are housed in the sheriff’s department.
Ashcraft said the other workstations will allow for future growth.
There will be room for 78 parking spaces, 54 on paved surface, 20 overflow spots on unpaved and four covered spots.
Lott also tried to address concerns on the design of the roof, which is a low-slope top.
“Flat roofs are a no-no,” he said. “It’s flat enough to walk on, but if you put a basketball on there, it’s going to roll off. This is the right roof. It’s easy to maintain and it will shed water.”
Problems with other buildings and in particular the roofs have plagued the county and the commissioners reminded Lott of that.
“Leaks are the main problem we have had with low-slope roofs, and it completely destroys a building when you have leaks,” said Commissioner Hubert Sapp.
While the 911 center will be able to withstand extremely high winds, a flood is a different matter.
“Our focus has been on wind events and a loss of power,” Lott said. “It is not flood proof.”
The bid documents are almost finished, Lott said, and plans are for a pre-bid meeting on July 19 with a bid opening on Aug. 9. Construction is expected to start in August and last 11 months. The 911 center should be ready for operation in August or September 2008.