The Roundup -

Progress Being Made On Fire Hall

 

The location of the new firehall is on county owned land at 1105 Third St. NW in Sidney, east of the Law Enforcement Center and north of Mainstay Suites.

For more than 100 years, Richland County has been fortunate to have dedicated individuals who are willing to sacrifice their time and safety as volunteer firefighters. Because the county operates with a volunteer fire department, the city and county can invest money into fire equipment; there are currently two full-time city trucks, one truck that serves both the city and the county, and seven county firetrucks.

During the last three years, the fire department has been fundraising toward a goal of $300,000 in order to replace personal protective equipment; they've raised approximately $150,000 through donations and recently received a $30,000 grant through the Foundation for Community Care.

"Residents have always been outstanding in their support," Fire Chief Larry Christensen said. "They are very generous in their donations. For more than 26 years the firemen's breakfast has been our sole fundraising event; we always have an excellent turn-out, serving breakfast to more than 1,000 people every year."

County commissioners first began discussing plans for a new fire hall 2008, as needs for both the fire department and the community changed. Dirt work for the building began in May of 2016.

The biggest issue with the current fire hall is space; as the National Fire Protection Association sets stricter safety standards, the days of firemen riding atop the fire trucks has ended. Firefighters must now ride in the cab with seatbelts, which means that firetrucks are getting bigger.

The location of the new fire hall is on county owned land at 1105 Third St. NW in Sidney, east of the Law Enforcement Center and north of Mainstay Suites. The building will be 20,793 square feet on the main floor including seven drive-through bays and a dedicated wash bay, a meeting room, a separate office for the fire marshall, men's and women's bathrooms with showers, and an ADA compliant elevator.

On the 5,796 sq. foot second floor, there will be a situations room overlooking the bays allowing for a secondary command to support ground operations, a fitness center, and sleeping quarters in case a full-time fire department is ever needed. The Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting truck, currently kept at the airport, will also be housed at the new fire hall allowing for a quicker response time when it's needed.

Building supplies with a 25 year or greater longevity will be used, ensuring that it will be a long-standing building that will allow the Fire Department to serve the community more efficiently. B&B Construction is the construction manager, coordinating all sub-contractors, and says the building will be finished by August 1, 2017.

"We have a great bunch of guys. They always show up when they're needed," said Christensen of the 29 volunteer fire fighters.

There can be as many as 36 fire fighters and Christensen notes, "Of course it would be nice to add a couple more, but we are getting it done with what we have."

With all that our volunteer fire department does for us, what can we do for them to show our appreciation and make their jobs easier? Pull to the right! Anytime you are driving and see an emergency vehicle behind you, pull to the side of the road immediately; create a clear path for them to get past you quickly without risking traffic accidents.

 

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