Amy Jo Kinyon
With just inches of clearance at either bumper of its largest truck, the Vermontville Township Fire Department is growing bigger than its britches.
“What we currently have works, but the way the fire industry is going we are going to outgrow it very quickly,” remarked Fire Chief Matt Emery.
The last purchase by the department, a large tanker, had to be taken to Spartan Motors and the bumper had to be reduced by 20 inches at a cost of nearly $5,000 just to fit inside the door, explained Emery.
The Vermontville Fire Association is in the early planning stages of a project that will add an addition to the current station, and are just beginning its work with an architect for plans. Preliminary drawings have been created and the next step is for department input into the design before the first cost estimates are created.
Emery said the new part of the facility will extend to the south of the current building and feature four drive-through bays, which will open on to Main Street. The bays will eliminate the need to back the trucks into place and allow for safe exits during an emergency.
“The biggest efficiency it will address is the safety factor,” Emery said. “Right now we are pulling out onto First Street then onto Main Street. We have very minimal visibility when pulling out on Main Street.”
Emery said they are hopeful that donations and grants will pay for the majority of the project, which will be the first renovation to the facility since it was built in 1970. More than just an upgrade for the department, the new wing will make room for an ADA accessible community room, kitchen facility and other amenities not currently part of the station. There will also be room to house the township offices, which are currently located next to the township library in the lower level of the historic opera house on First Street. The community room will provide training space for the department and allow the department to host countywide training events, something the current facility just does not have the room to accommodate.
“We’re not looking at it as just the fire department building,” said Emery. “We’re looking at it as a community building.”
Along with fire equipment, the department is used to hold elections. During voting days, the trucks are pulled outside during open poll times, making things a bit more complicated should there be a call for services on those days.
Emery said he is looking forward to moving ahead with the project, though a timeline for completion is not known since it is still in its infancy.
Amy Jo Kinyon is a
member of the Vermontville Township Board.