Weekly Feature



2018-01-03 / Front Page

Clarence Fire District No. 1 ready to unveil new facilities

by ETHAN POWERS
Editor


Clarence Fire District No. 1 invites the community to a dedication of the recently completed addition to their facility on Saturday, Jan. 6. Doors open at 10 a.m. with a ceremony to take place at 10:15 am. The $3.5 million project was chaired by Commissioner James Schlabach and managed by RP Oak Hill Building Co., Inc. The upgrades will enhance the storage of apparatus, provide additional storage, as well as a physical fitness room, a conference room, and office space. Clarence Fire District No. 1 invites the community to a dedication of the recently completed addition to their facility on Saturday, Jan. 6. Doors open at 10 a.m. with a ceremony to take place at 10:15 am. The $3.5 million project was chaired by Commissioner James Schlabach and managed by RP Oak Hill Building Co., Inc. The upgrades will enhance the storage of apparatus, provide additional storage, as well as a physical fitness room, a conference room, and office space. More than two years since the project was unveiled to voters, Clarence Fire District No. 1 is finally ready to unveil the recently completed addition to its facility.

The community is invited to a dedication set for 10 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 6, at 10355 Main St.

The $3.5 million project, which will enhance the storage of apparatus and include a physical fitness room, a conference room and office space, was chaired by Commissioner James Schlabach and managed by RP Oak Hill Building Co., Inc.

Voters approved a $1.5 million bond resolution in May 2015 that would help renovate and expand the facilities and help to address multiple issues with the existing building, which is more than 40 years old.

A previous vote had turned down a proposal to build a new fire hall at a cost of about $6 million, but Schlabach and Clarence Fire District No. 1 re-pitched the idea to residents with a new plan that would be cost-efficient while providing needed upgrades.

The district had about $2 million in its building reserve fund, which allows savings from budget year to budget year. A short-term loan was garnered to make up the remaining gap, resulting in no tax rate increase to residents because the district is currently paying off the bond in a five-year period — a rapid return rate that estimates a 1.25 interest rate on the bond.

Last October, state Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer also announced $300,000 in state funding to help offset expenses from the major expansion.

A 7,200-square-foot building addition was constructed for three fire truck bays, office and storage space, a conference room and a fitness area. Existing truck bays and storage areas have also experienced renovations. Restrooms have also been upgraded to comply with the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Among the many improvements made to the fire district as a result of the addition, Schlabach believes that the most significant upgrade was to the safety of its firefighters.

“The physical fitness aspect of firefighting is such a huge component of what we do. Firefighters need to be ready to go to work to help residents,” he said. “This addition gives us more room for training.”

The renovations will help the district better accommodate modern fire equipment, which is much larger than the vehicles used decades ago. A new district office was added in addition to the fire records retention room. The district previously featured a universal weight station stored in a coatroom.

“We definitely needed more room for storing turnout gear and for record storage,” Schlabach said. “State law mandates that we save a lot of our records for the fire district, and for a long time we’ve just been running out of space.”

Schlabach stated that when construction began in September 2016, contractors were in a precarious position as they had to work around firefighters and did not have the luxury of installing the additions in an empty space.

“We were in a situation in which we’re still occupying the space and trying to conduct business, so we still had to be able to maintain our trucks and get out in an emergency. It created some interesting stories,” Schlabach said, noting how the contractors had to remove part of the roof in April in order to install trellises. Hard rain caused some firefighters to get wet far away from a fire hydrant.

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