It was years in the making, but its built to last.
A dedication ceremony and open house for the new Waterloo fire station at 510 Illinois Avenue took place Saturday, with firefighters from neighboring departments joining city and county officials and the community in celebrating a state-of-the-art facility that will serve Waterloo for generations to come.
The Waterloo Community Fire Protection District broke ground on the 16,000-square-foot building last year after having closed on the purchase of the former site of the Monroe County Nursing Home. The project was completed last month at a total cost of around $2.8 million.
The new building includes 14-by-14-foot doors and four drive-through truck bays — plus a fifth bay that could be modified into a drive-through in the future. There are also offices, showers and restroom facilities for males and females, as well as a training room and exercise facilities.Pictured in full dress uniform is the Waterloo Fire Department in front of the new fire station located at 510 Illinois Avenue. An official dedication ceremony for the new fire station took place Saturday. (Alan Dooley photo)
The training area also doubles as a temporary shelter for up to 75 displaced persons in case of a large-scale disaster.
“The project was made possible by the forethought of trustees who were members some 20-plus years ago,” fire district president Mark Brandt said. “They started a new land and building fund.”
This fund, Brandt explained, allowed the district to purchase land and reduce financing by about $1 million.
“On behalf of the Waterloo Community Fire Protection District trustees, I’d like to thank the community for their strong support of the district, our department and this new station,” he said. “We’re certainly proud of the state-of-the-art facility.”
Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith presented a scrapbook of old fire calls and other fire department memories to Brandt and praised the fire district for a job well done.
“Too often, we build buildings for today and not for tomorrow,” Smith said. “The group here that put this together built for tomorrow. You guys did a great job.”
Waterloo Fire Chief Mark Yeager praised the new fire station as an asset to the community.
“It’s a building that not only the fire department can be proud of, but also the community can be proud of,” Yeager said. “We did build this building for the future. It’s a superb building.”
Waterloo Fire Department President Joe Krump tied the past to the present and future of the fire department in his remarks.
“Thank your firemen… for the job they do,” he told the audience. “Because sometimes it is thankless. As we look at this new facility and look toward the future, recall those guys that went before us and did the same because they are the foundation this building was built on.”
Plans for a Memorial Bell Plaza to be built outside the station are in the works. The bronze bell that graced the front of the most recent engine house on Main Street since 1961 and hung outside the old firehouse (City Hall) since 1934 dates back to the late 1800s.
This bell will be featured in the new plaza as a way to pay homage to all those who have served the community as a firefighter.