new fire station planned

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 16:23 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

A new fire station for the second largest township in LaPorte County could start going up soon.

Center Township Trustee Lisa Pierzakowski said the lowest of several bids opened in late December was about $250,000 above a $2.4 million spending cap imposed on the project.

She said efforts are underway to scale back the cost to within budget so construction on the close to eight acre site at 4504 W. Johnson Rd. can start in the spring.

The goal is to move in by December.

Kevin Jerndt, an assistant fire chief at the department, said the current station at 305 W. Johnson Rd. is cramped from being designed in the 1950's for trucks, ladders and other equipment not as large as the fire fighting apparatus used nowadays.

''We've kind of grown out of it,'' Jerndt said.

Jerndt also said some of the walls have also separated a bit from each other because of uneven settling of the building over the years.

Pierzakowski said the new facility will have one additional bay and other things like a larger kitchen.

There will also be amenities not provided currently like showers and bedding, accommodations needed especially if the all-volunteer department ever switches to a paid part-time staff, she said.

Volunteers can go home after a call to clean-up and sleep but staff members would have to return to the fire station until their shift is over.

''They shouldn't sit in those fire clothes all day long smelling like smoke,'' Pierzakowski said.

Beds also would allow volunteers to stay the night so they're ready to respond when a major snow storm or some other severe weather event is approaching.

She said difficulty finding enough volunteers is stirring talk about having a manned facility.

The township voted more than a year ago to finance the project but the footprint of the building was discovered above the Kablein drain.

Additional land was acquired to move the structure on the drawings away from the storm sewer.