The Fire Chief Project: Good fences can make good neighbors

The Florida city of Ocala plans a decorative wall to shield a treatment plant from a highway

Interested in Treatment?

Get Treatment articles, news and videos right in your inbox! Sign up now.

Treatment + Get Alerts

One precept of The Fire Chief Project is to “look great.” The City of Ocala, Fla., has installed a 760-foot-long sound barrier wall to shield its Water Reclamation Facility #1 from a passing Interstate highway. It shields the plant workers from the highway noise but is also designed to present a pleasing visual for people driving past. The wall was built by Oldcastle Precast/Duratek in 20-foot sections, each 14 or 22 feet high to accommodate elevation changes along its path.

The wall includes a decorative welcome sign that includes a large blue aluminum circle coated with an anodized paint. The letters are made of resin, and the blue-and-white background is epoxy paint. The colors were one of five color combinations voted on by a panel of citizens (a nice stroke for sure to get members of the community involved).

Best of all, the wall eventually will have metal artwork mounted on some sections. The work will be designed and created by a local artist, to be chosen through a “call to artists” process similar to a request for proposals (RFP). The artwork has been postponed because of budget constraints.

Jeff Halcomb, director of water and sewer, says the sign and artwork are part of a big-picture art theme being developed in the city in line with cultural awareness and intrinsic value. The basic idea is that art is for everyone and that everyone can have access to it. There will be original artworks in a number of city venues. 

The reclamation facility also includes a dome and odor-control devices that cover the odor-causing area of the plant. That and the wall “have made a real impact to that part of the city and to the community as a whole,” Halcomb observes. Watch for a more detailed story about this project in a future issue of TPO magazine.

Efforts like this further the two purposes of The Fire Chief Project:

  • Raise clean-water operators to the stature of the fire chief.
  • Make kids grow up wanting to be operators.

Send your ideas on and contributions to The Fire Chief Project by email to


Comments on this site are submitted by users and are not endorsed by nor do they reflect the views or opinions of COLE Publishing, Inc. Comments are moderated before being posted.