Work is expected to start soon on the new, nearly $1 million Allen-Clay Joint Fire Station in Clay Center.
Fire department officials met recently to update Genoa Village Council on their plan.
District Fire Chief Bruce Moritz informed council that Harp Contractors of Northwood had won the construction bid. The company will get $995,000 to build the new headquarters and fire station at 3155 N. Genoa-Clay Center Road in Clay Center.
Harp is also the contractor the Genoa Board of Education picked to undertake the $1.4 million Genoa High School gymnasium renovation this fall. That project, well into its final stages, is scheduled to be done sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Funding for the new fire station will come from the cash accumulated through the continuous 5-mill fire levy approved for the operation of the fire district.
“We are just waiting for the financing to be put into place, put all the paperwork in order, and we will be ready to go,” Moritz said Tuesday.
The new 10,000-square-foot building will boast three bays, an office, a training room and living quarters for the medics who work out of the station. Currently, medics work 12-hour shifts and EMS crews on 8-hour shifts.
Contractors estimate crews could have the new fire station done in 200 days from the start date, if the weather cooperates, Moritz said.
Given that, the new fire station could be ready for operation sometime in the spring or early summer. An open house will be scheduled for area residents to view the station then.
Construction of the new fire station ends some haggling over the proposed new site choice.
“It had been a controversy of its own for years,” said Genoa Village Administrator Kevin Gladden. “They had wanted to build the new station at the Williston site.”
Not so, said Moritz.
Officials purchased land near the Williston station years ago when it became available. It was an investment for the future, in case further expansion was necessary.
“That station is OK. The Clay Center one is the one in dire need,” the chief said. And the fact the site was centrally located made it the obvious choice right now, he added.
The old building will revert to its owner, the village of Clay Center, Moritz said.
The Allen-Clay Joint Fire District was created in 1999 to consolidate the individual firefighting and emergency medical services of the west end communities of Genoa, Allen Township, Clay Center and Clay Township. It operates on a $700,000 annual budget and brings another estimated $220,000 in EMS billing, Moritz said.
The department has four sites, the main administration building/station on Genoa-Clay Center Road as well as three other stations in Genoa, Clay Center and Allen Township.
The purpose of the district is to provide services to the Allen and Clay Townships and the villages within those townships, contracted areas as well as other communities as requested through mutual aid agreements. Services include fire/EMS operations, hazardous materials incidents, disaster planning, fire prevention programs, public services and mutual aid.
According to department minutes, there were 1,052 runs in 2011 and 1,055 runs in 2010.
And, the numbers for this year seem to be running parallel. Up to July, records indicate about 600 runs collectively, records show.
“The numbers go up and down. But it levels itself out. There are some slow days and then there’s days you just can’t keep a truck in the station …but on average we have about two runs a day,” Moritz said.
The fire district has a website that is maintained on a regular basis. Besides messages from the fire chief, visitors can peruse anything from department rosters and equipment photos/logs to chief’s minutes and department runs, listed monthly and annually.
“We try to keep it as updated as possible,” Moritz said.
Firefighters, EMS crews and medics don’t just rely on the levy for funding though. They are feverishly readying for their annual fundraisers to help pull in cash to keep operations in top shape.
Station 1 hosts a feather party on Nov. 10 in Williston. Station 2 will host bingo at 7 p.m. the first Saturday of the month through winter and spring. And Station 3 will undertake a reverse raffle in March and April. That station also held a chicken barbecue recently.
It’s a big commitment for these volunteers in a time when the pull on free time is a constant struggle, Moritz said.
“Our lifestyles have changed a lot. As busy as kids are, and the travel people have to put in to get to a job, there’s not a lot of extra time,” Moritz said.
But the volunteers find the time for necessary classes as well as recertification and training.
“And they give up their time when the tone goes off. I can’t say enough good things about these people. They are a special breed,” Moritz said.
“They provide a heck of a service for not a lot of money.”