May 14, 2010
M.J. DIXON CONSTRUCTION LIMITED
FEATURE | General & Trade Contracting
CFB Trenton fire hall build a logistics challenge
With 10-metre-high shear walls, 30-metre-long span trusses, and seven double bays, a new $12.1-million fire hall under construction at the Canadian Forces Base in Trenton is not a standard fire station. Neither are the logistics of building it.
Located at the southeast quadrant of the base immediately adjacent to a taxiway, the fire hall is being built to accommodate 12,000-litre fire trucks and other emergency response equipment needed to support the air base’s growing fleet of larger and more sophisticated aircraft.
Some of its features include a vehicle wash area, a control room, offices, training rooms, equipment maintenance areas, and firefighter sleeping and support rooms.
The 2,650-square-metre, two-floor building was designed by Kingston-based Colbourne & Kembel Architects Inc. and its team of consultants to be seismic and vibration-resistant, as well as achieving LEED silver status.
Mississauga-based M.J. Dixon Construction Limited is the general contractor overseeing the project which includes some runway and taxiway repair work and the installation of sewers and watermains to serve the facility.
Construction started at the end of February of this year and has to be completed by June 21 2013, says Dixon senior project manager Ali Farahzadi. That’s the rigid deadline imposed by Defence Construction Canada (DCC), the construction arm of Defence Canada.
As part of its bid, Dixon had to prepare a very detailed 500-page quality control plan to meet DCC’s requirements, he says.
But it’s the building’s unique design and structure, the construction sequencing, and the very strict security requirements which make the project a lot different from many others the company has worked on, he says.
Besides adhering to construction practices to help achieve the LEED silver target, the general contractor must meet DCC’s own environmental protocols. “Even if we spill one drop of gasoline, it has to be reported and then inspected.”
As each of the various subtrades bring their own cranes to the site, Dixon has to obtain written permission from DCC two weeks in advance of the scheduled time each arrives on site. There may also be times cranes have to be lowered if they interfere with the airspace of landing or taking off aircraft, says Farahzadi.
But that is only small component of the challenges of working on the project.
“The work must all take place in a highly monitored environment under the watchful eye of the client and within the confines of a working air force base.”
The site is on Perimeter Road, an internal road which connects that portion of the base with Highway 2 to the south. Workers and delivery drivers must check in, first with a DCC security monitor at the Highway 2/Perimeter intersection, and then again with a second monitor at the site entrance, he says.
Security is even tighter for the work being carried out on taxiway and runways. Each subtrade must have police criminal checks of its workers and then submit those names to DCC beforehand, says Farahzadi.
As for the actual construction, it has to be conducted in pre-planned sequences of poured concrete walls, structural steel, pre-cast core slabs.
“Most fire halls have much simpler design, Farahzadi says.
Workers must also contend with very strong windy conditions, especially in the winter. As well, a very high water table in the area makes it “challenging” to install the sewers and watermains.
About 40 different trades are working, or have worked, on the site and that figure will probably reach 60, he says.
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