Search resumes for future home of South Sound 911 public safety communications center

South Sound 911 will not pursue the purchase of a once “preferred” site in Fircrest for the construction of the agency’s new public safety communications center. The agency will resume its search for a suitable site for its public safety communications center, which would house operations from six consolidated and collocated 911 centers, and administrative and public services.

South Sound 911 will enlist the assistance of the project’s development team, led by Trammell Crow Company of Seattle, in its search for a future home.

An alternate site at 6700 S. Adams St. in Tacoma, is still being considered, but a preliminary agreement has not been reached.

Fill soil on the Fircrest property (2119 Mildred St. W.) prompted concerns about stability and would cost an estimated $3-4 million to correct. Additionally, further legal review revealed that soil contamination documentation from the Department of Ecology applies only to a portion of the 9-acre parcel; at best, further work with the Department of Ecology would significantly delay the project, assuming any underlying contamination required no further action.

While the Fircrest property may be viable for other residential or commercial projects, it is not suitable for the type of structure required for 911 operations.

“We’re building something with such unique requirements with regard to security, its proximity to potential hazards, and communications and utilities infrastructure,” South Sound 911 Executive Director Andrew Neiditz said. “If there’s a manmade or natural disaster, the public safety communications center needs to be standing and we need to be dispatching help into the community where it’s needed.”

The future home of South Sound 911’s public safety communications center will ultimately house two buildings and parking for employees and visitors. One building, approximately 55,000 sq. ft. in size, will house 911 and dispatch operations and a municipal emergency operations center (EOC). It will be constructed to meet the National Fire Protection Association, National Emergency Number Association (NENA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) standards for public safety communications centers.

The second building, approximately 25,000 sq. ft. in size, will house South Sound 911’s administrative offices and Information Services department, which offers a public counter for services such as fingerprinting and the processing of concealed pistol license applications. The administrative building will be constructed to meet general office building standards, rather than the more stringent requirements necessary for emergency communications and operations.

The site will also include a radio transmission tower for public safety communications, as well as fuel and water tanks for emergency operations.

Once a suitable site is identified and acquired, project completion is expected in approximately two years and estimated to cost $62 million.

In November 2011, residents of Pierce County voted for a 0.1 percent sales tax increase to support public safety, which included the consolidation of 911 centers. For more than two years, the agency has been working on projects and processes in support of the consolidation and collocation effort, including the completion of a facility planning study in 2013.

Details about the public safety communications center project can be found on the major projects page of South Sound 911’s website.

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