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Firehouse fix puts pressure on contractor

Sean Ryan
sean.ryan@dailyreporter.com

Jeff Kalman will have only seven days to fix the floors in the Milwaukee Fire Department’s Engine House 6 after firefighters clear out Monday.

The department this month gave Kalman, owner of Injection Restoration Services LLC, Belgium, a $10,000 emergency contract to prevent the engine house’s first floor from leaking. But Engine House 6, 1693 N. Franklin Place, must shut down during the project, so emergency-response times will go up because three other firehouses in the area must pick up the company’s beat, said Darrell K. Moore, deputy chief in the Milwaukee Fire Department Bureau of Construction and Maintenance.

“Now Engine 6 is not there, so (the dispatcher) goes and pulls the next-closest company,” he said. “It’s marginal, it’s absolutely minimal, but there is a slight effect.”

Kalman and one employee will take over the engine house Monday, and their first job will be chiseling out the cracked parts of the concrete floor. He said if there is a lot of concrete to remove, the crew might have to burn the midnight oil.

“Whatever it takes,” Kalman said. “It depends on how much bad concrete is in there. I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that.”

He said he’s using a fast-curing concrete to patch the floor so he can start applying a waterproofing chemical within one day. Then it’s a matter of applying enough layers and providing enough time to dry so the layers don’t crack under the weight of a fire engine, he said.

“I want to give the final coat 36 hours time,” Kalman said. “Those fire trucks are pretty heavy.”

The Fire Department can’t keep the engine house operating during the project because the waterproofing chemicals give off a poisonous vapor, Moore said. The department also cannot defer the project because water is leaking through cracks in the floor and could rot the building structure and foster mold growth in the firefighters’ basement living area, he said.

“This is something that we identified as a problem,” Moore said. “We just didn’t realize it was that bad.”

Kalman said he has experience with fast-tracked projects, such as repairing the entrances and exits to a parking structure. With all of his material stockpiled and a plan of action in hand, he said he feels good about his chances of getting the job done.

He even is considering the possibility of finishing ahead of schedule.

“I can get the weekend off,” he said.

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