Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue will be starting building renovations, which will include new apparatus bay doors. (Gregory Hasman / Observer)

Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue’s Station Five will soon get renovations, including new bunks for firefighters.  

The station is at 5103 Santa Fe Hills Blvd. in Enchanted Hills.  

The overall project will consist of demolishing walls, flooring and the ceiling to create a larger kitchen, a dayroom, captain’s office and quarters to go along with the new bunks. The remodel will also install three new heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems, according to the city.  

One reason for the work is to be ready in case RRFR wants to add more people — perhaps a battalion chief — to the fire station down the road. There are five firefighters and “no room to put more people,” Battalion Chief Jeffrey Wenzel said. 

As part of the renovations, five bunkrooms will be built for the firefighters and one for the captain to go along with a separate office. Currently, the captain’s room consists of an office and a bunk. 

The project will also make things better for the firefighters who have dealt with some inconveniences, especially during COVID-19. For example, they had to work out separately in order to maintain social distancing. One renovation will include a bigger gym so more than one person can work out at the same time.  

A classroom and gym at Rio Rancho Fire and Rescue Station Five. The construction of a new gym will be part of the station’s renovations. (City of Rio Rancho courtesy photo)

More desks and computers will be added to the station’s dayroom, giving firefighters the ability to work on their reports and other things more efficiently, Wenzel said.  

The renovations are slated to cost $555,000, and it will come from the city’s fire protection fund ($266,122), voter-approved general obligation bonds ($161,534), a state grant ($104,940), the city’s general fund ($19,098) and facilities fund ($3,306). 

The Rio Rancho Governing Body OK’d a budget amendment at its March 24 meeting to ensure the project would be funded. The vote came after the project had been identified in the city’s Infrastructure and Capital Improvement Plan (ICIP) as a facility in need of a remodel. 

‘Let’s do it right’ 

The project was originally scheduled to begin in August at a cost of about $260,000, but that figure went up, in part due to the need to add HVAC systems and having to address supply chain issues on things like lumber, Wenzel said.  

“Let’s do it right,” he said, adding that he hopes the work will last a long time so the city does not have to come back in a couple of years to redo or fix anything.  

The work will be done in two phases: The bunkrooms, the captain’s quarters and office, and dayroom will be completed first, followed by the kitchen renovations, gym construction and HVAC work. The apparatus bay doors will be replaced by red ones with glass inserts. 

“It’s pretty dark in here,” Wenzel said.  

While the work is going on, the firefighters will remain at the station.  This will cause some inconveniences, but the fire department does not want them to move to a different station because of a conflict of space and “we didn’t want to isolate this district of people,” he said. 

“We definitely want to keep them here in case something happens,” Wenzel added. 

The timeline to start the project is on hold as he and the city are waiting to hear back from the state’s Construction Industries Division, which is reviewing the inspection plans.  

Wenzel said he hopes to get the plans back by mid-April and start the project May 1. At which point, work is slated to be completed in four months, although that could become six months or longer, depending on whether supply chain issues continue.