Joint fire center coming

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LANL: Federal agencies join forces for new TA-49 facility

By The Staff

As the one-year anniversary of New Mexico’s second largest wildfire on record approaches, an focused multi-federal agency effort is now underway to build a permanent Interagency Fire Center in the heart of Northern New Mexico’s fire country.

Building upon the success of last year’s multi-agency coordination during the Las Conchas fire, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), Bandelier National Monument, and Santa Fe National Forest have again partnered to enhance northern New Mexico fire protection efforts by building a 6,400-square foot facility to serve as a joint coordination and response center for fire events.  

The new building will cost more than $3 million, and will enhance the current fire-fighting capacities of all the agencies.

“On the one-year anniversary of the Las Conchas fire, I’m extremely pleased to see the federal agencies come together and make this Joint Fire Center for northern New Mexico a reality,” said Kevin Smith, site office manager for the NNSA’s Los Alamos Site Office. “Having a permanent facility dedicated to fighting wildland fires is a huge asset for the entire region, where response time matters. NNSA is proud to be part of this joint effort.”

“The Las Conchas Fire last year confirmed the value of our partnerships with the Santa Fe National Forest, the Valles Caldera National Preserve, and the National Nuclear Security Administration, in protecting the Los Alamos National Laboratories and the community of Los Alamos, as well as surrounding public lands,” Bandelier National Monument Superintendent Jason Lott said.

“We’re extremely pleased with the interest we’ve gotten for this project,” said Maria Garcia, Forest Supervisor for the Santa Fe National Forest.  “This is a welcome facility, certainly in light of the wildfires we’ve experienced.”

The site where the new building is planned currently houses the Interagency Fire Center (TA 49) at LANL.  The facility near Bandelier National Monument accommodates up to three helicopters and other equipment used for firefighting activities.

The new single-story multipurpose facility will include space for offices, training and conference rooms, and for storage of fire protection/suppression equipment.  The new facility is designed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) criteria.  The LEED design standard reduces energy and water needs, which are important resource considerations for northern New Mexico.

“All the agencies involved are stewards of our nation’s public lands,” Smith said, “and this is a good example of federal agencies collaborating to achieve operational fire fighting capabilities while protecting New Mexico’s resources.”

A groundbreaking ceremony will be held Tuesday.

According to a DOE memo, the building would include offices, training and conference roms as well as storage for fire protection/suppression equipment.

The memo stated the National Park Service would construct the building and would also design the facility for LEED silver or gold certification. NNSA would supply sewer, water, gas and electricity to the new facility from either existing mains along N.M. 4 or by short distribution lines along the TA-49 entrance road. Approximately 450  feet of gas line, 450 feet of either buried or overhead electric wire and 300 feet of water line would be required. A new septic system and a effluent disposal field also will be required.