Fire department administrators have moved back into the newly renovated Central Station after being gone for six weeks while builders upgraded the building.
“Everybody is really pleased with the changes, it really smoothed our whole operation,” said Fire Chief Ken Erickson.
The $4.2 million project renovated and upgraded about 13,000 square feet of the existing building, which was built in 1975, said City Manager Scott Myers. The project also added about 12,000 square feet. One of the new rooms will be used for planning emergency operations, Erickson said.
The building needed to be upgraded to meet modern building and safety codes, Myers said.
Erickson said the station presently houses about 36 firefighters and administrative staff members, who have been working around renovation crews for most of the past year. Department administrators have occupied space in a building across the street since early September. They moved back into the upgraded building last week.
“We really needed these changes,” Erickson said. “This was an old building that hadn’t been changed much since the 1970s. And really, these changes help us serve the community better.”
“We’ve had firefighters living and working 24 hours a day in a 45-year-old building,” Myers said.
Among those most pleased are the department’s three female firefighters, who have had to share the building’s restroom facilities and living quarters with the male firefighters and administrators, the chief said. The renovations included the construction of a full-sized ladies’ bathroom as well as new living quarters for the women on staff.
“There were no female firefighters in the 1970s when the building was built,” Erickson said. “Women firefighters have been joining the department only relatively recently, and the old building couldn’t really accommodate them, so they’ve been sharing a restroom and other space with the men.”
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