Bloomington Council Approves Facilities Upgrades in Fire Department Master Plan

Upgrading facilities, coordinating fire protection with the town of Normal and building a new fire station are among recommendations in a $16 million Bloomington Fire Department master plan approved by the City Council.    

The plan, based on a 2012 study done by Wisconsin-based Five Bugles Design, acknowledges current needs but does not include approving funding for any work. That will be reviewed during the planning for fiscal year 2017, which begins May 1.

The study found that the city’s five active fire stations lack space for fitness/wellness, classroom training and storage; don’t have gender-equitable showers and dormitories; and have inadequate heating, ventilation and cooling systems and aging infrastructure, including windows and roofs.

The consultant also recommends building a new station and/or entering into an intergovernmental agreement with Normal to better cover the northeast side of the Twin Cities.

In Bloomington, the College Avenue area northeast of the city’s Station No. 3 at 2301 E. Empire St. sees firefighter response times of eight to 10 minutes, the study noted. That exceeds guidelines set by the National Fire Protection Association.

The town of Normal is moving forward with its own plan to address fire coverage issues by replacing three fire stations with ones in new locations over the next 10 years. That means there is no support for adding a fourth Normal fire station either alone or jointly with Bloomington at this time, Normal City Manager Mark Peterson told The Pantagraph last week. 

Bloomington Fire Chief Brian Mohr told the council the study’s first priority was to collaborate with Normal in utilizing technology to improve service to the northeast area by using GPS and dispatching the closest unavailable units, regardless of whether a joint fire station is built.

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