Crosby VFD breaks ground on new maintenance facility to meet growth needs

By David Taylor
Managing Editor

Crosby is growing and so is the volunteer fire department that supports the community. With five stations and 30-plus apparatus, the need for a maintenance facility to spread out and properly care for the Crosby VFD assets became a necessity.

District Chief Cameron Elles, who has been with the department 17 years, is overseeing the project and working with contractors to complete the project in a timely manner.

“I maintain and handle all the buildings, maintenance, and properties they sit on,” he said. “I also ensure that the buildings are operational and oversee renovation projects, additions, or new construction such as this building.”

The maintenance facility will accommodate the entire fleet including all apparatus, rolling stock, or anything that has wheels and a motor or floats.

“We’ll use this facility to work on them and do maintenance versus having to send it out to a vendor across the city or state,” he said. “Keeping them local is the goal and the plan.”

While it’s not always feasible, depending on the work required, in the long run, it will save the department and taxpayers thousands of dollars.

“That’s not miles we’re putting on the vehicles, it will save us gas, and hopefully save us on repairs as well as tow costs,” he said.

It also means a return to rolling stock in a much quicker turnaround as well.

Elles works for a general contractor in Houston in the commercial and industrial subset.

“Firefighting isn’t my day job. It’s a way for me to give back to the community in terms of volunteering,” he said.

His expertise in the construction business and overseeing the projects can help save taxpayers and ensure the work is done properly.

“We were at the town hall meeting and already see the increase in incidents, so we’re trying to get ahead of that wave or curve,” he said.

The maintenance facility is being built on property already purchased by the department some 10 years ago, behind Station Two, located on South Diamond head Boulevard in the Newport subdivision.

The building will sit on the south side of the property and will have ample space to maneuver and maintain current operations.

Conceptual design documents began in March 2022 with a floor plan that they liked.

“Right now, we have an old station that we converted into a maintenance facility that has been in the department for probably the last 50 years, and we’ve outgrown it,” he said.

Once a floor plan was decided, they signed contracts with Joiner Architects and Axis Construction Builders in October of 2023 in partnership with ESD 8.

Clearing has already been done, and dirt work is mostly finished. The building pad is mostly done.

“We’re getting ready to do slab on grade work, foundation work, concrete has already been poured for drill piers. Grade beams and slab on grade will be next and then site paving for the parking lot, the roads access points, and all that is on the schedule next as well,” Elles said.

The maintenance facility will also have storage for department related items, whether it’s parts for the apparatus, or fire items including hose, gear, and more.

“We will also have a gym facility to stay in shape. It will replace the smaller workout area that we have that is currently in one of our eight bays at Station Two,” he said.

The move to the maintenance facility will free up critical space for more apparatus.

The maintenance facility will house three pull-through bays and allow for six apparatuses to be serviced at a time.

The ground floor will house 10,000 square feet of space, and the second floor can be used for storage, and not occupational space. The building is made of structural steel and metal stud framing walls, with low maintenance kept in mind.

“This is really going to give us the ability to have an adequate facility to perform the work in house so that we can reduce that turnaround time it takes to get a truck in and out,” he said.

Elles said they hope that the completion date of January 2025 can be brought into December.

“The sooner we can get in there, the sooner it benefits us and benefits the community,” he explained.

Once the building is complete, they will either lease or purchase the furnishings or equipment including truck lifts, spent, fluids housing, and parts to stock that they don’t already have.

“There is an office and kitchenette with the hopes that we will be able to hire a mechanic in the future who will be dedicated to our fleet alone,” he said.

Crosby is the last 100 percent volunteer fire department in the county. All the others use a daytime paid crew or some variation.

“So far we’ve been able to keep up with the call volume with our 75-plus volunteers,” Elles said, “and hope to keep it that way into the foreseeable future.”

The cost of the building is estimated at $4.1 million, cutting out approximately $250,000 before going to contract. Most of the materials are already onsite to help avoid price increases from vendors and manufacturers.

The ESD 8 was able to procure the loan for only five years instead of the traditional 20-25 years.