Details of the new Waterloo Fire Protection District fire station were shared with the public for the first time last Wednesday in a meeting held at the existing fire station.
Citizens got a close-up look at floor and site plans, as well as an architect’s rendering of the front and rear elevations during the session.
“The new building will feature practical and usable elements for today’s volunteer firefighters while retaining the necessary flexibility for future growth,” Waterloo Fire Chief Mark Yeager told meeting attendees.
Construction is slated to start in August, with an estimated spring 2014 project completion. The new 16,000-square foot station on Illinois Avenue will replace the 53-year-old station rented from the city at 233 N. Main Street.
It is unknown what use is planned for the existing fire station owned by the city once the new one is built.
“The siren will stay here, taking advantage of its central location,” Yeager said.
The station will be built on land bought from the county after the old Monroe County Nursing Home was demolished at Moore Street and Illinois Avenue. It was initially projected that construction might start in May, but questions about compaction of the soil — especially where basement areas were filled in — still needed to be resolved.
The new station will be built at a cost estimated to be around $2.5 million.
“We have $500,000 set aside in reserve funds,” Yeager said, “and we are exploring financing with several financial institutions.”
Yeager praised the work of fire district trustees in getting the project to this point.
“Years ago, they saw the future and took prudent steps to start setting aside relatively small amounts every year to make this possible today,” he said. “We will not need to seek tax increases for this building, nor will it negatively impact future equipment needs.”
The existing facility first went into use in 1961. Since then, fire trucks have become larger, Yeager said.
“When we return to the station, the new larger trucks have only about eight inches of slack to back through the 12-by-12 foot doors,” he reported.
The new building will have 14-by-14 foot doors and include four drive-through bays — and a fifth bay that could be modified into a drive-through, if necessary.
In the course of planning the new facility, Waterloo Fire Department leadership visited several other stations, new and old.
“We wanted to learn firsthand what they like and didn’t like so much,” Yeager said.
The design includes a full building generator as well, to sustain operations even with a total electrical blackout.
There will be offices, showers and restrooms for males and females, a training room and exercise facilities.
“We train monthly and the training room will be heavily used,” Yeager said.
He added the training area could get double use as a temporary area to house up to 50 or 60 displaced persons following a large scale disaster.
“Some of us have been looking forward to this virtually since we first volunteered here,” Waterloo Fire Department President Joe Krump said.
From his days as a youth visiting the current station with his dad, to today, Krump reminisced about how the place still smells the same – a little bit musty, with the smell of tires.
But he said he’s eager to get into the new station — especially now that it is so much more than just a dream.