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H & H Resuscitates Firehouse For Premier Air Expansion

Sat October 27, 2001 - Midwest Edition
Cindy Ladage

Located outside Bethalto, IL, just north of St. Louis, MO, Premier Air is an Illinois company that provides air charter services and maintains corporate aircraft. Premier is expanding its operations and according to Jim Weinman, director of maintenance, “has been growing in leaps and bounds.”

Premier is located at the St. Louis Regional airport (formerly known as Civic Memorial Airport). In February, the maintenance staff and other members of Premier, moved into its brand-new $1.7-million building. Besides the new space, the company still maintains three other hangars as well.

Construction started in June 2000 and the building was finished during the beginning of 2001. One portion of the project was an already existing building which H & H Contractors expanded into the new facility. “This was an existing firehouse. But it was too far away from the runway if there was as fire. It was built in the late 1950s and it was vacant more than it was used,” Weinman said.

He explained that a new firehouse was built in the late 1970s and that the original building was used for a variety of uses over the years. “There was a trucking firm and contractors and other businesses over the years, but nothing permanent. So we nestled our new facility next to it and used the old section. The old section was 100 by 100 sq. ft.,” he said.

Although much of the space is being used for office space, the largest portion of this new building is a hangar section. One of the highlights of the new addition is the seven “islands” positioned in strategic places throughout the hangar. Weinman explained what the islands are and how they work. “In this hangar, we have islands where we have electric, air, water, telephone and computer hookups.”

Scott Reichmann of H & H Services Inc., said that the island idea grew out of a previous idea of a box concept that was used at Garrett Aviation in Springfield, MO. “Camp electric came up with that concept. It works out well; power, air, water, telephone and data lines are all there, so as parts are placed, it is tracked,” he noted.

The islands will help the maintenance crew as they provide a variety of services such as inspections, engine changes and even a complete new interior. Weinman said their work truly varies. In one case crews had just installed a new leather interior for a corporate client. When working in the new facility, these islands will reduce the need for wiring and cords and increase worker safety and convenience.

This hangar also features huge electric doors so that planes can easily move in and out. There also is a blower ventilation to cool the hangar in the summer. Besides the islands and the doors, the other distinct area in the hangar is a big slot drain to meet USEPA requirements. “This is a drain for floor oil and everything that goes into the tank. The tank separates it, then it is pumped out,” Weinman said.

The pump is underground and the waste haulers that will pick up the waste are licensed with the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency.

H & H Contractors worked with its subcontractors, Griffith of Carlinville, IL, who did the plumbing, and Camp Electric of Alton, IL, who did the electrical work. Most of the wiring was complete at move in, however, Weinman said the Camp was still completing the final phases.

According to Weinman, the maintenance crew had been crowded in the previous hangar and they have been looking forward to moving into the new facility for both more room and easier working conditions. Another reason they look forward to the move is “the old parts facility was upstairs and here we all will be on the same floor and it will be much easier to handle.”

The new building also has a closet that houses a huge compressor that will supply air for all the maintenance pneumatic tools. Besides the hangar and office space, there also is a technical library and a kitchen cafeteria area. The addition also provides for Premier a place for customer to wait while their airplanes are being repaired. These small rooms adjacent to the main waiting room have a computer hook up where clients can work on their laptops while their planes are serviced.

Weinman said part of the ease of this construction was a great job performed by H & H Construction. That may be due to the company’s experience on this type of project. According to Scott Reichmann of H & H, “We do a lot of hangars and are well know for it.”

He added that the job requires more work when rigging the 150-ft. (46 m) wide clearspan building with cranes.

This 38,000-sq.-ft. building, although made up of some office space, mainly consists of hangar space. The wide clearspan building that Reichmann refers to requires some specialty techniques using two cranes at one time. For this specific job, Reichmann said the company used Bollmeir out of St. Louis. “We lift half of the frame with one crane then put the other in place with other frames prefabricated off site. The 75-ft. wide frame is tied in with purloins by the second crane,” he explained.

H & H Services main office is located in Carlinville, IL. Reichmann said the company is one of a few that do its own concrete work and steel erection. This June H & H celebrated 50 year of business.

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