The City of Hood River will open bids March 30 for the fire hall expansion, which will cost a projected $6 million.
Fire Chief Devon Wells said he expects it will take about a week to choose a bid for recommendation to city council.
At the end of March, firefighters will begin vacating the fire hall, at 18th and May streets, and move into temporary quarters across the street on city property in the public works yard. Four portable buildings, including two measuring 12 by 60 feet, will house offices and provide living quarters, Wells said.
"It'll be a little like fire camp, but the guys are excited about it," he said. "Services shouldn't change at all."
Fire engines and other vehicles and equipment will be housed under portable tents, and at the Wilson Street fire substation and in two rented storage units.
"We had toyed with idea of a phased construction move-out, but we decided to move out and camp for the summer, and get out of the contractors' way," Wells said.
Given a mid-April start date, the fire hall expansion has a projected complete date of late November.
Voters approved the bonds for capital expansion and apparatus updates in 2008. Part of those funds have already paid for a 95-foot center-mount ladder engine that will enable firefighters to combat fires in large buildings.
The new hall will have larger bays for storing vehicles, more office and living space and a training room, and a meeting room that can be used for public gatherings as well as department training.
"We're excited about that; to finally have a place in the station for training," Wells said.
The department now has 17 paid staff, who live at the station in five- or six-man shifts, using one large sleeping room and a bathroom and shower designed for two people, which was the paid staff in 1986 when the fire hall was built. Expanded living quarters will also enable the department to start a resident volunteer program.
The building demolition will look drastic at first - "like the fire hall got lifted off the planet," Wells said. The building footprint will expand southward, to the embankment between the fire hall and Friendship Park. Wells said that when the project is done, the building won't look all that different.
"Other than the two-story section it will look the same from the street, with the same hose tower," Wells said.