The City of Merrill held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for the new fire station located at 110 Pier St. in Merrill.
This new fire station is a centrally located, 4-bay, 20,000-square-foot building to house the fire apparatus, ambulances, and support units; with adjacent operations support areas, administrative offices, training space, and living quarters.
The design of the new station incorporates an innovative exterior wall and roof system to provide energy savings over the life of the building. Construction of the new fire station began in May 2013 and it was substantially completed in January 2014.
Prior to dedicating the new station, a retirement ceremony was held for the old 1916-built Fire Station 1 at 701 E. First St. Firefighters then walked to the new station on Pier Street, led by one of the department’s original 1892 horse-drawn ladder wagons. Members of the public attended the event and were invited to tour the new station following the dedication.
Fire Chief Dave Savone thanked the citizens and the city for their support of the new fire station.
As he was cleaning out the out fire station, Savone said he ran across reports from previous fire chiefs regarding the need for a new facility.
“They’ve been talking about this for 25, 30 years,” Savone said.
Prior to cutting the ribbon at the new fire station, the Merrill Fire Department ceremoniously retired Station 1 at the corner of Cleveland and First streets, which has served the department for nearly 100 years. The flag was lowered at Station 1 and transported to the corner of Pier and Second streets, where it was raised over the new fire station.
The fire department was up and running in its new home last Tuesday after a day and a half of moving.
“The move went better than we had planned,” said Lt. Mike Drury.
The new station consolidates the fire department’s operation at one centralized location for the first time in its history. That will add to the efficiency of the department, Drury noted.
“Everything is now under one roof,” he said.
The Merrill Fire Department has historically manned two fire stations, an arrangement that ended in 2012 when the city sold the west side fire station to Agra Industries.
Drury added that the much larger facility also will contribute greatly to efficiency. All the department’s equipment now has designated areas that don’t interfere with other operations. The office space offers individual work areas for all shift captains and the living quarters are a big improvement for the personnel who now work 48 hour shifts.
“The room in here is incredible,” Drury said.
Separate rooms off the apparatus bay are provided for hose storage, lawn and garden equipment, EMS supplies, tools and a decontamination station. Instead of hanging the hoses to dry from a hose tower, the new facility features a hose dryer.
The buiding’s systems are designed for energy efficiency. A huge generator is capable of running the entire facility, should Merrill experience an extended loss of power.
A brand new Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) compressor has been installed in the new fire station. The department’s old compressor, which was reaching 35 years old, was donated to Northcentral Technical College for the Public Safety Center of Excellence in Merrill. The new compressor was one of many pieces of new equipment purchased with funds donated by the Bierman Family Foundation.
The apparatus bay itself features in-floor heating, diesel fume extractors and radiant heat in the ceiling. The bay is designed so that all rigs can go out of any door.
While it isn’t functional, the original fire pole from Station 1 has been installed in the new fire station.
A physical fitness room is filled with brand new equipment for the firefighters to use to stay in shape.
The facility includes five bathrooms, an upgrade over the two bathrooms in the current station.
The training room in the new station will be used not only for continuing education for firefighters, but also to provide classes to the public. The Merrill Fire Department teaches CPR and First Aid classes for various groups in Merrill. The training room also will be available as a backup Emergency Operation Center for the county.
Artifacts of the fire department’s history are on display in the training room.
The housing area for firefighters is a big upgrade over the old station. Merrill firefighters work 48-hour shifts, eating and sleeping at the station.
A new commercial kitchen features three refrigerators, one for each shift, and two microwaves. The kitchen is set up to handle the cooking needs of the seven-man shift. Next to the kitchen is a day room where firefighters can relax in the evenings while on duty.
The sleeping area has nine bunkrooms, shared by one firefighter from each of the three shifts.
The 100-year-old Fire Station 1 is being considered as a new home for Merrill Transit.